What Is Virtual Fatigue &
How Should It Be Combatted?

August 22, 2021

Beat the Zoom Fatigue with Simple Lifestyle Changes

Have you found yourself extremely tired at the end of the workday? Don’t worry, you are not alone. You might be suffering from Virtual Fatigue - the aftermath of having to attend video calls throughout the day. 

So, what is Virtual Fatigue?

Video conferences have become the norm for discussions at the workplace. Although convenient, these meetings have resulted in increased screen usage, which inherently leads to ‘Virtual/Zoom fatigue’. It’s not just about the Zoom platform; the term refers to the exhaustion caused by all video conferencing applications in general. In fact, it has become one of the most-searched terms on Google and has surfaced on social media as well. 

What are the causes?

Recent research has revealed the reasons behind this syndrome. On video calls, you spend an excessive amount of time with close-up eye contact and this can be highly intense. Also, when you video call, you have to stay fixed on your chair and this reduces your usual mobility. Most importantly, information overload is common during video chats. But a few simple fixes can help in tackling these after-effects:

  1. Turn Off The Camera: Studies reveal that video access to each other during a call has very little impact on your ability to solve a wide variety of problems. In fact, when you are on video, you might be straining to take in every visual detail on the other end, and this can be tiring for your brain. In any case, you actually rely on audio cues rather than visual ones to cull information from a conversation. It is thus better to opt for voice-only conferences by switching off the camera.

  2. Schedule Calls Mid-Morning: Having to step into video calls first thing in the morning can be a spoiler. It can derail all your scheduling and priorities for the day. It’s best to answer all your emails and set the plan for the day ahead and schedule your video calls during the mid-morning sessions once you have settled in.

  3. Stop the Stare: A zoom call can be compared to a scenario where you are followed all around your office by your colleagues carrying mirrors. On video calls, you look at yourself and other people’s faces up close for extended periods as doing so is an indication that you are paying full attention. This might make you overly self-conscious of your non-verbal communication and appearance which in turn can cause tiredness and make you feel stressed. You can stop having to look at yourself by changing your settings to make sure that you are not visible to yourself. Zoom has a feature called “hide self-view” or you can simply minimise the whole window and just tune into the conversation.

  4. Scheduled Breaks: Video conferences can cause you to be rooted in your chair. Instead, turn off your camera if possible and stand up and stretch. Short breaks with short bursts of movement can leave you energised and also give your eyes, mind, and body a much-deserved break.

  5. Make a Zoom Rule Book: What makes video calls most exhausting is that you don’t know the plan of action for these calls. It will be good if you can chart out certain rules to play by during these calls. The Zoom rule book can have points like promoting the mute button, certain days for no video calls, and more. If these things are agreed upon earlier on, the meetings can be tied up quicker. It will also help in lessening anxiety and fatigue.

Some of these steps might be hard to follow. However, making an active effort to follow them might help fix the fatigue, wherein you will not feel so drained out at the mere thought of attending a video call. Better still, try opting for a phone call, which is a far less invasive method of communication and can save your brain from being needlessly overstimulated.


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