If you’ve noticed that you’ve been feeling especially exhausted recently, you’re not alone. Psychologists have confirmed that ‘Zoom fatigue’ is absolutely a real thing – and explained why extensive videochatting with friends, colleagues and loved ones can leave us feeling knackered.
With much of the world currently on lockdown with governments urging us to abide by social-distancing measures, video-calling platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Houseparty are becoming everyday features of our lives for both work and socialising. But it’s led to many of us suffering from what’s been named ‘Zoom fatigue’.
What is Zoom fatigue?
‘Zoom fatigue’ is the name that has been given to the exhaustion many of us have been feeling over the last few weeks, as we’ve been left feeling more and more exhausted by growing numbers of video-chats. Even those of us who love socialising normally, seem to have found it more tiring via apps like Zoom.
Speaking to IFL Science, Dr Paul Penn, a professor of psychology from the University of East London said that ‘in digital communication, non-verbal cues – facial expressions, gaze trajectory, gesticulation – are often either absent or distorted. In terms of online video chatting, things like a time lag, low resolution, dodgy camera angles/lighting, technical hitches etc all contribute to making such cues more difficult to perceive and respond appropriately to.’
He continued by explaining that the level of concentration and effort we have to put into conversations via videochat can leave us feeling frustrated and physically tired. For some of us, videocalling also puts us under pressure to look camera-ready and teachers have described feeling like they have to ‘emote more’ to get their message across through a screen.
How to avoid Zoom fatigue
So what can we do about it? Whilst it may seem difficult to turn down invitations to videocall when everyone knows that you’re stuck at home, it is absolutely OK to say you just want a quiet evening to yourself. Work calls may be harder to get around – but why not suggest carrying out one-to-one meetings over the phone without video, and take the opportunity to stretch your legs (around the house) whilst you talk – it could even help boost your creativity!