Alleviate “Zoom Fatigue” During Your Meetings
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Getting Through Your Zoom Video Call Without Just Turning It Off

It’s a dread many of us feel now—another class, another meeting, another session on whatever video platform and the exhaustion that comes with it. It’s the so-called “Zoom fatigue” that has afflicted instructors and students alike during this pandemic crisis. If you too have been feeling it, you’re not alone. According to numerous articles from a variety of sources (from the BBC to the Harvard Business Review) Zoom fatigue is real.

And since there are already so many terrific articles out there detailing the many reasons we experience this kind of fatigue, I won’t duplicate that content here. Suffice to say that we are overstimulated, overwhelmed, equipped for embodied relationships, and are also anxiously situated in a pandemic and civil unrest.

One of the most common bits of advice about how to combat this fatigue is to take breaks and step away. And as helpful as that can be, we also need some relief during the sessions.

The following 5 tips are specifically for what to do during a video call to combat that fatigue.

1. Acknowledge It

The fatigue is real! Acknowledge the reality for your students or participants and give them some grace. If you are hosting the session, let your participants shut off their camera once in a while or during specific parts of the call. That might mean shutting off their camera during a presentation or showing them how to notify you that they have to "step away." (Many platforms even have a function that allows you to indicate that you are not at the computer.) People can still pay attention without having cameras on. For longer sessions, build in breaks for stretches and levity.

2. Hide Or Cover Your Image

Watching yourself on screen can be exhausting all on its own. It already can feel like a whole panel of folks are staring you down and that’s unnerving [1]. Adding your own eyes to that panel is an extra stare that you don’t need. Covering or hiding your own image can help relieve the stress of watching yourself perform on screen during the whole session and removing the set of eyes that is likely watching you the most intently.

On some platforms, like Zoom, there is a function that allows you to hide your image from yourself but not for the rest of the people on the call. For platforms that don’t have that function, try using a sticky note or something similar to just cover up the little square with you on it. Don’t worry, you’re still there and can check your hair at any time.

3. Put Some Distance Between Yourself And Your Camera/Screen

We all have a subconscious set of proximity boundaries [2] around us that define our comfort with different people. Typically, the closest zone— around 3 feet or less in front of us—is reserved for our closest family and friends. So even though our proximity isn’t physical, we may still be feeling some anxiety by the proximity of so many faces. Putting some distance may help relax that stressor. So push that screen a little farther away from you and you might start to feel some relief.

4. Shut Everything Else Off

Close your email, silence your phone, close down the other myriad of projects you’re working on. Focus, breathe, and stay in the moment of your call. If it feels right, ask your students/participants to do the same. Taking a break from everything else even during a call can help reduce the weight of the always-on environment.

5. Plan To End Early

This one can be tough. There’s so much to say and do! But you can help combat fatigue by giving yourself and your participants time between sessions by planning to end before your scheduled time. Even 10 minutes can make a big difference. Just think of how we’d all be reducing the collective Zoom fatigue if everyone had some space planned in.

Hopefully, these 5 tips can help get you through your classes and meetings. If you’ve found any other helpful strategies, please share them!

References:

[1] ‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here's why that happens.

[2] Proxemics

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