Zoom fatigue sounds made up right? Meeting fatigue. That was real. Remember those days of in-the-office meetings? Sometimes, we had meetings to plan other meetings. What even was that? It was exhausting. So, now that many of us are working from home, being able to hop on a quick Zoom call rather than plan for and attend in-person meetings seems like it should offer some relief from meeting fatigue. The only problem is that many people have discovered Zoom meetings leave them feeling even more exhausted than the in-person ones. If you’re feeling extra tired after video calls (work-related or personal), you’re not alone. It turns out there are real reasons why Zoom calls are making us feel tired. In this blog, we’re going to talk about some of the reasons why people are experiencing video call burnout and some solutions to address Zoom fatigue.

Do I Have Zoom Fatigue?

Before we tackle some of the underlying causes of video conferencing fatigue, let’s take a few minutes to determine whether or not you’re struggling with this. Remembering the moments immediately after your last Zoom meeting or other video call, answer the following questions:

  • Do you feel tired or exhausted?
  • Do you feel mentally or emotionally drained?
  • Do you have trouble concentrating on other tasks?
  • Do you lack the energy to engage with other work?
  • Do your eyes hurt, water, or is your vision blurry?
  • Do you feel irritated or moody?
  • Do you want to spend time alone after video meetings?
  • Do you mentally replay the video chat to determine how well you did?
  • Do you have trouble focusing or remember details from the video call?
  • Do you want to avoid other people or interactions after video calls?

If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, you’re likely experiencing some level of Zoom fatigue.

What Causes Zoom Fatigue?

There are many reasons why people might experience Zoom fatigue. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Multitasking – There are too many things to remember during video calls. Conversations face-to-face feel natural. We make the right amount of eye contact. We know what to do with our hands. At least we don’t really think about these things anymore because we do them all the time. Zoom calls seem like they should be similar to face-to-face interactions, but suddenly, we have to think about things like where to position our face in the camera, how to achieve good lighting, making sure our mics are muted or unmuted at the right times, and other factors. This makes what should be an easy interaction much more complicated and stressful.
  • Eye contact – too much direct eye contact can make people feel anxious. In-person meetings and interactions involve people looking all around them. Unless you’re leading the meeting, people won’t be staring at you the whole time. Zoom calls give the impression that everyone is looking at you all the time. This can be really stressful for many people, especially those who experience social anxiety or phobia.
  • Close talking – you know that experience of being too close to someone who’s talking to you in real life? Video calls can feel a lot like that. Most people keep their cameras focused in tightly on their faces, and this can feel an awful lot like having a very up-close conversation. This can increase feelings of pressure and anxiety during the call.  
  • Self-criticism – Because most video call software includes an image of ourselves as part of the call, people may find themselves engaging in a lot of self-criticism. They don’t look good enough, they shouldn’t be making that face, this lighting is terrible for their skin tone. This self-criticism can leave people feeling a lot of negative emotions and focusing those inward.

How Can I Address Zoom Fatigue?

The easiest way to manage Zoom fatigue is trying to engage in fewer video calls, but since these types of interactions don’t necessarily seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, that may not be an option. Some other steps you can take to minimize the impact of Zoom calls include:

  • Turn your camera off – in many cases, this can help Zoom meetings feel less stressful because you’re not worried about what you need to be doing or what you look like. Instead, you can simply listen and talk with others in a more natural way. Even if it’s just for a few minutes during an hour-long meeting, this can make a big difference.
  • Change your camera position – one of the reasons we can feel overwhelmed during Zoom meetings is the way that cameras frame us. It feels unnatural to sit so close and feel “zoomed in” on the other meeting attendees. In addition to turning the camera off for a few minutes, you can also consider changing the way the camera focuses on you. Maybe you want to adjust the view, so you can sit farther back, walk around your office a little, or take notes more easily. Don’t feel like you’re confined to video call like everyone else. Mix it up.
  • Hide your video – another good option is to find the preferences in Zoom and other video conferencing and hide your own video. This is an option in almost all video call software, but you may need to do a little digging. Not having to look at your own video can definitely alleviate some of the stress of video calls.
  • Change other call settings – if looking into all those expectant faces is feeling overwhelming, change your settings to only view whoever’s speaking. You can also minimize the video window, which will make the faces on screen appear smaller. This may be less overwhelming.

Can Therapy Help with Zoom Fatigue?

Zoom fatigue, in many ways, is just a form of emotional and mental stress. These video calls ask for a lot of mental and emotional work from us, which can be taxing. If you’re really struggling with Zoom fatigue, feelings of isolation, emotional exhaustion, and other concerns related to video calling, therapy can definitely help you develop skills and strategies to address these issues as they arise. Therapy can also help you to recognize the signs of emotional and mental fatigue and know when you need to take a break. If you’re interested in learning more about therapy at Behavioral Health Alliance, take a few moments to complete our online scheduling request form. You can also call (952) 652-3439 or email info@behavioralhealthalliance.org.