Top 5 ways to handle Zoom fatigue

With many people now working remotely, video conferencing has increasingly become part of workers' daily routines. Tom Merritt lists five ways to overcome "Zoom fatigue."

How to handle Zoom fatigue: Top 5 ways

Do you feel tired after your video conference? You're not alone. Whether it's Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or something else, video conferencing wears on you in a way that physical meetings don't. Scientists at Stanford University studied why video conferencing is exhausting. They published their findings in a paper called, Nonverbal Overload: A Theoretical Argument for the Causes of Zoom Fatigue, in the journal "Technology, Mind, and Behavior." They have some recommendations for how to deal with it—here are five ways to combat so-called "zoom fatigue."

  1. Hide-self-view. Seeing yourself in the video box causes constant self-evaluation, which has been shown in other studies to lead to negative emotions. Basically, the longer you look at yourself, the more likely you are to start critiquing your appearance. Stop looking at yourself and that should help.
  2. Shrink the video window to make people smaller. Try making it about one-third of the screen. When faces are larger, you interpret them as closer and the closer someone is, the more stressful the interaction. Shrinking the window puts some virtual distance between you and gives you some space.
  3. Prepare before important meetings. Make sure you like your shot and you're sitting in a comfortable position. You'll feel better if you like how you look, and you'll last longer if you're comfy. 
  4. Turn off the camera during long meetings. Take five minutes or so to give yourself a chance to move around. Stretching or getting up to get water is perfectly normal in a  conference room, but moving off camera to do it in a video conference can feel like you're being rude or not paying attention. Just turn that camera off so it doesn't show an empty chair, then take those important small breaks. 
  5. Work with your co-workers to make audio-only meetings more frequent. Not every meeting needs video. Start normalizing audio for those conversations where you don't need the added stress of being seen. 

Video conferences are still going to be frequent, but hopefully these tips will help you make it through them with a little more energy.

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By Tom Merritt

Tom is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, and book club with Veronica Belmont. He also hosts Daily Tech News Show, coverin...