There’s no question most of us have been spending significantly more time staring at screens since the pandemic entered our lives. For those now working or learning from home, Zoom has become the new norm for interaction. But research shows that this dramatic increase in screen time can come at a cost to our physical and mental health.
If after your fourth Zoom meeting in a row you’re feeling exhausted, headachy, cranky, or just plain ill — it’s not your imagination. And you’re not alone. Zoom burnout, or fatigue as it’s also called, is a very real condition that comes with very real side effects that outweigh the benefits of wearing sweat pants all day.
Know the Warning Signs
So how do you know if you’re experiencing Zoom burnout? Here are some key signs to look for.
- Extreme exhaustion at the end of your work day
- Blurry vision caused by eye fatigue and strain
- Difficulty staying focused on your tasks
- Muscle tightness and tension around the face, jaw, neck, and shoulders
- Headaches, stomach aches, or other mysterious pains
- Overall lack of energy and increased lethargy
- A sense of disconnection from your work and colleagues
- Feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression
Zoom fatigue can impact your productivity, efficiency, and enjoyment of the work you do. It can also seep into your personal life, affecting your relationships, mood, sleep, exercise routine, and even physical health.
Avoiding Zoom Burnout
The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize your Zoom fatigue.
1. Try spending more time outdoors and in nature to counter the effects of Zoom — even an extra walk around the block will help.
2. For every 20 minutes you spend on Zoom, take a 20-second break and focus on an object far away to relieve eye strain.
3. Avoid multitasking — checking email or texting, for example — while on Zoom to lessen the burden on your brain.
4. Look away from the Zoom window every minute or so to give your eyes a break, or even stand up and walk around the room.
5. Hide yourself from view so you’re not tempted to keep staring at your own face on the screen, which can contribute to fatigue.
6. Whenever possible, forgo Zoom for a traditional phone conference — we don’t always need to see each other to get work done.
7. Pick one day a week to go screen-free, and read books, meditate, go for walks, throw a frisbee, or play board games instead.
Hopefully, these tips will help you prevent Zoom burnout until we’re able to retire our sweat pants and meet face-to-face again. What techniques do you use to avoid screen fatigue?