Your Student Life: Managing Zoom Fatigue

April 20, 2021

Zoom has been and continues to be a useful for many people with regards to work, learning and social connection.  However, with increased time spent on remote learning and remote work, more students are likely to experience tiredness, worry and burnout from excessive zoom use, a syndrome called zoom fatigue.

This post discusses strategies to minimize or reduce zoom fatigue.

What is zoom fatigue?

One definition of zoom fatigue might be: increased tiredness as a result of virtual meetings.

What are some ways to prevent or reduce zoom fatigue?

According to Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL):

  1. Consider taking zoom out of full screen mode, as excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense. 
  2. Using external keyboard allows for an increase in the personal space bubble between oneself and the grid.
  3. Hide self-view, as seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time can be fatiguing.
  4. Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility. an external camera farther away from the screen will allow you to pace and doodle in virtual meetings just like we do in real ones. And of course, turning one’s video off periodically during meetings is a good ground rule to set for groups, just to give oneself a brief nonverbal rest.
  5. Since the cognitive load is much higher in video chats, consider taking a brief break from having to be nonverbally active, but also turning your body away from the screen.

Additional strategies noted in the Harvard Business Review:

  • Avoid multitasking.  Consider closing any tabs or programs that might distract you, put your phone away, and stay present.
  • Take mini breaks during longer calls by minimizing the video, moving it to behind your open applications, or just looking away from your computer now and then.
  • When possible, instead of a video conference, consider if an alternate method is appropriate (phone call, Slack or email, etc.)

Other strategies:

  • If possible, schedule non video call activities between zoom calls to give yourself a break from the screen while remaining productive.
  • If cleared by your physician, consider brief bouts of stretching or exercise, even if its just a few minutes between zoom calls.
  • Some students may benefit from reducing screen brightness to decrease eye strain.
  • To balance the period of increased screen time, consider doing leisure activities that do not involve screens, such as going on a walk, working outside, playing a sport, etc.

To learn more about zoom fatigue, see these references:

 

R. Ryan Patel DO  
 
FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist  
Counseling and Consultation Service 
Office of Student Life