Yes, Zoom fatigue is a real thing that resulted from the chaotic year that was 2020. Safer at home orders drove most people into isolation, working from home or remaining isolated to stay healthy. Many people relied on Zoom for work meetings or happy hour socials to stay connected with others.
Zoom is still a regular way of communication because COVID-19 cases in the United States continue to spike. Glitches, poor video quality, delayed sound, and general online interactions have caused what people refer to as Zoom fatigue. People who work from home are in and out of Zoom meetings throughout the day. Then they have to use the same technology they despise to hang out with friends and family.
According to Neda Gould, PhD, clinical psychologist and director of the Mindfulness Program at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Zoom video calls lead to uncomfortable feedback. First off, you have to look at yourself on screen, and the slightest flaws can make people with anxiety feel insecure. Secondly, humans thrive off social cues and personal interactions, and both of those are lost over Zoom. It’s also hard to read emotions and nonverbal cues, which help people interact successfully, over a Zoom call.
Do Other Factors Contribute To Zoom Fatigue?
The simple answer is: yes. From a cognitive standpoint, Zoom conversations are unlike real conversations in that people can virtually multitask. For example, a person can check Facebook, buy something on Amazon, type a Word document, all the while conversing with someone over Zoom. Whether you know it or not, you become mentally drained because the mind doesn’t experience the social tradeoff cues it is accustomed to. With all this mental distraction and lack of attention to the conversation, you get Zoom fatigue. Plus, it’s difficult for the brain to activate dopaminergic pathways, which come from the reward assessment from in person conversation. Without those pathways, you are not fully alert, you have low energy, and there’s minimal motivation to engage.
Although this all sounds like terrible news, there is a way to climb out of Zoom fatigue. Psychologists researched numerous methods to help make Zoom calls more engaging. Plus, you’ll be able to become more social without getting tired of virtual interaction.
Get Active Over Zoom:
This tip is not about actively engaging in conversation, although you should do that; rather, sign up for virtual exercise classes. Get a group of friends to sign up with you so that you can Zumba, yoga, lift weights, or get swole over Zoom. Many local gyms or trainer friends instruct Zoom fitness classes to make money. They are often reasonably priced, fun, and supportive!
Switch To Phone Calls:
Although it is nice to see familiar faces, you don’t need Zoom to interact with people. In the virtual age, a phone call seems like a primitive way of communication, but it’s still very effective. If you are Zoomed-out after a long day of work meetings, switch up your location and talk one-on-one with someone over the phone. Try going on a walk during your phone call so you can get some fresh air and exercise.
Cook The Same Recipe:
Food brings people together, and a meal is a historically social event. Since you can’t host a dinner party, stay connected with food via Zoom. Between a group of friends, agree on one dish that everyone should make. You can start the Zoom call when your dishes are ready to reveal, or you can leave the camera on while preparing the meal. Each person may come up with a different way to make the same dish.
Start A Virtual Book Club:
While a book club sounds like something out of ancient history, it’s very popular and making a comeback. Ask a friend, or a group of friends, if they are interested in starting a book club. You can all agree on a book by voting, or you can have each person pick a book that everyone will eventually read. It’s a great way to stay connected because the Zoom call requires active engagement. The act of reading the book before the conversation gets you excited, and it makes you accountable for finishing something.
When you’re on the Zoom call, be on the Zoom call. It’s so easy to lose focus, minimize the Zoom window, and open games or other applications. Put your phone away for the Zoom call and be present to engage in conversation. If the Zoom call happens after a long day of virtual meetings, put a cap on your family/friend call. Keeping a call short can help you avoid multitasking and fatigue.