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4 reasons you’ve got ‘Zoom fatigue,’ backed by science

Stanford researchers recently revealed why you’re feeling that fatigue from Zoom meetings

SHARE 4 reasons you’ve got ‘Zoom fatigue,’ backed by science
Carmen Senski, monitors a Zoom meeting of the Virginia House Appropriations Committee at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.

Carmen Senski monitors a Zoom meeting of the Virginia House Appropriations Committee at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. People across the country continue to feel tired and lethargic from the constant Zoom meetings, and it might last longer since the pandemic is nearing its second year, according to CNBC.

Steve Helber, Associated Press

There’s no question that we’re feeling some “Zoom fatigue” — the nickname for symptoms you feel when you’ve spent too much time on a video call.

People across the country continue to feel tired and lethargic from the constant Zoom meetings, and it might last longer since the pandemic is nearing its second year, per CNBC.

People might only continue to work remotely, which means more Zoom meetings, teleconferences and screen-based work without the confines of an office.

To figure out more about the fatigue this will cause, researchers at Stanford University identified four reasons why we develop “Zoom fatigue.”

You’re looking at a lot of things all at once

On a Zoom call, you’re looking at multiple people all at once. You’re looking at a gallery view of everyone on the call. You’re watching your boss react to your colleague, who is responding to the meeting host, who is sharing a screen of a slide deck created by someone who has a virtual background of a location you visited at a conference with your assistant. Woof. That’s a lot all in one go. And intense eye contact is a lot to handle, tiring you out and causing increased stress. This only gets worsewith screen size, too, according to the researchers. You see more of the screen so you get more stressed out from what you’re seeing.

So how do you fix it? Decrease the screen size of your Zoom call so it takes up less of your view.

You’re looking at yourself

Seriously. You spend a lot of time on Zoom checking out your camera in the upper right corner. It’s only natural. And this can be taxing and stressful on us because we’re, well, checking ourselves out.

“In the real world, if somebody was following you around with a mirror constantly — so that while you were talking to people, making decisions, giving feedback, getting feedback — you were seeing yourself in a mirror, that would just be crazy. No one would ever consider that,” said Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, in a release.

Hiding your self-view might be the right way to go to avoid this issue in the future.

You can’t move around

Guess what — you’re sitting a lot during these Zoom meetings. You’re in your seat, staring at a screen, watching video footage. You’re not moving, writing on a board, standing up and grabbing some Diet Dr. Pepper. You’re literally sitting there like a potato while your boss is chatting about the latest monthly business report.

To avoid more stress with this, consider which room you’re in and how your computer is set up, according to the Stanford researchers. Consider turning off the video so you can stand and walk around, too.

Your brain can’t handle everything

You’re watching people and waiting for the chat function to glow orange. You’re listening to people, notifications and audio messages, according to Stanford researchers. You’re literally on a meeting on your computer. It’s a lot all at once, and a lot more than a normal conversation. Zoom meetings require more than normal dialogue.

“You’ve got to make sure that your head is framed within the center of the video. If you want to show someone that you are agreeing with them, you have to do an exaggerated nod or put your thumbs up. That adds cognitive load as you’re using mental calories in order to communicate,” Bailenson said, according to the release.

Turning your body away from your screen can be a solid solution to help with cognitive overload. Step away when you can but continue to pay attention.