The number of people working from home has skyrocketed in the last year, which has led to a massive wave of Zoom fatigue. You’re likely attending virtual meetings, so you probably feel more exhausted now than ever. Even though your workload hasn’t changed, Zoom calls feel so much more challenging than face-to-face meetings. You may dread your upcoming video calls or feel absolutely drained by the end of a conversation.
Zoom fatigue is a serious issue for many. Virtual meetings can trigger stress, anxiety, and self-consciousness, and attending several per day can quickly lead to professional burnout or other mental health problems. If you’re currently working from home, you should understand why virtual meetings are so much more tiring than in-person conversations and what you can do to reduce your fatigue.
Why Is Zoom So Exhausting?
When you started working from home, you may have expected virtual meetings to be the same as face-to-face meetings. You can still see and hear your colleagues, so it seems like the work shouldn’t feel any different. However, most people quickly realized that this wasn’t true.
Attending Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting is completely exhausting in a way that in-person meetings aren’t. If you’re struggling with Zoom fatigue, know that your exhaustion is valid. Virtual meetings are mentally draining, and you’re far from the only person who’s struggling with remote conferencing.
Although you can see your colleagues’ faces during Zoom meetings, you’re still missing out on a lot of non-verbal communication. You may not be able to interpret their body language or hear the nuances in their tone of voice, so it takes much more effort to understand and interpret what they’re saying.
Seeing yourself in the virtual meeting is difficult, too. In a face-to-face meeting, we don’t look at ourselves. During a Zoom meeting, though, you can see your face alongside the other participants. Many people find it impossible not to look at themselves, and this hyper-awareness of yourself and your appearance can put you on edge.
Technical difficulties also contribute to Zoom fatigue. No matter how new and high-quality your equipment is, technical problems seem inevitable when it comes to Zoom meetings. It’s incredibly frustrating to attend meetings that are regularly interrupted with frozen screens, crashes, lag, and other issues. It takes longer to get to the point of the meeting, and fixing these problems is tedious.
How to Reduce Your Zoom Fatigue
You’re not alone in your experiences with Zoom fatigue. Unfortunately, whether or not Zoom is a presence in your life isn’t within your control. You do have the power to set boundaries and create an environment that minimizes your exhaustion, though.
Here Are 6 Tips for Managing Zoom Fatigue
1. Set Meeting-free Blocks
You probably don’t have complete control over your schedule, but you can greatly reduce your Zoom fatigue by strategically planning your meetings. If possible, leave a few meeting-free blocks throughout the week.
You could even set aside a full day each week not to have any meetings. If your coworkers are also experiencing Zoom fatigue, they may be open to coordinating a meeting-free day as well.
Meeting-free blocks or days are a great way to take a break from Zoom, but the key is to actually stick with that schedule. It can be tempting to book a last-minute meeting in that time slot, but you should only give up your meeting-free time if there are no other alternatives.
2. Decline Some Video Calls
Saying “no” can be difficult, but you may not have to attend every meeting or call you’re invited to. If someone requests a video meeting with you, consider whether or not the information could be communicated in another way. Phone calls can feel much less stressful than video meetings, and many topics can even be settled asynchronously through email.
3. Stick to an Agenda
Sometimes, virtual meetings are unavoidable. However, you can cut down on the duration of the meeting by pre-writing a step-by-step agenda. By knowing exactly what you want to discuss and accomplish during the call, you’ll save a significant amount of time.
If you’re not hosting the meeting, you can ask the organizer to send you an agenda for the call beforehand. This can help you prepare to make the meeting as efficient as possible, and it gives you another opportunity to turn down virtual meetings that aren’t valuable to you.
4. Hide the Self-view Feature
On Zoom and other virtual conferencing platforms, you do have the option of hiding your own icon on the screen. Watching your face may be a major source of anxiety and stress during virtual meetings, so hiding your view of yourself can be a great way to combat Zoom fatigue.
Depending on the rules and conventions of your workplace, you may even be able to turn your camera off entirely. By not worrying about how you look or what’s in your video frame, you can focus on the content of the meeting much more easily.
5. Don’t Multitask
For some people, the main cause behind Zoom fatigue is multitasking during the meetings. You may get away with checking emails or completing other tasks during virtual meetings, but this can contribute to stress and anxiety. When you’re in a virtual meeting, allow yourself to be fully present. Focusing solely on the meeting will reduce your stress considerably.
6. Take Breaks
Scheduling back-to-back meetings is one of the most common Zoom pitfalls. Because you don’t have to travel between meetings, it’s tempting to schedule your calls with no breaks in between. This will quickly lead to Zoom fatigue, though.
Try to leave at least 15 minutes between each video call. Even a short break is an excellent opportunity to rest your mind, get up from your desk, and reset before the next meeting. During this time, do something to take your mind off of work. Step outside, drink some water, or listen to a song to decompress and recharge.
Although there are benefits to working from home, there are also a number of challenges. For many people, video meetings don’t feel natural, and attending Zoom calls all day is exhausting. Your mental health is important both for your professional and your personal well-being, so if you’re struggling with Zoom fatigue, it’s important to take steps to combat it. Recognize that your struggles are real, valid issues that can lead to burnout, and try to structure your day to minimize your stress.
Therapy can be another valuable resource if you’re facing Zoom fatigue, anxiety, stress, or other mental health challenges. Finding ways to cope with remote work and life’s other stressors is not easy, but your therapist can help you explore ways to protect your mental and emotional health. If you’re interested in speaking with a therapist in Beverly Hills, reach out to The Beverly Hills Therapy Group today. Our licensed counselors are happy to help.