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- by Ellen Blake
originally posted 5/23/2020
Video calls – a necessary evil?
Much of the world shifted in early 2020 from in-person meetings to online due to the coronavirus. Early on, I believed the technology was a blessing. After all, video platforms such as Zoom provide an easy way for people to conduct business, socialize, worship, even date. Fast forward six months, and I no longer look forward to these online communications; in fact I dread them. Why? Because I find them exhausting. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.
Why do I find video calls so emotionally exhausting?
These calls tire (and stress) me out for a wide variety of reasons.
- I must change out of my pajamas and comb my hair (self-care seems not to be a priority these days)
- The house (or at least the room I’m in) needs to be presentable
- I need privacy and quiet, but cannot always control what family members do while I’m on a call
- Too many participants make conversations difficult to follow
- It’s hard to read non-verbal cues and body language
- The need for sustained eye contact is uncomfortable and draining
- Sitting in one place for long periods of time is difficult and I worry that if I fidget, I might seem disinterested
- Silence in face to face conversation is important -and helps with the flow- but in a video call makes me anxious. I don’t want people to perceive me as unfocused or unfriendly
- Lagging connections, background noise and microphone issues frustrate me
How to decrease zoom fatigue
These online calls consume a great deal of time and energy, at least for me. Since it looks like video platforms are here to stay, here are some tips I found help limit the fatigue that results.
Reduce online distractions
The number one distraction for me on video calls is my own face. I worry that I do not come across to others the way I want, and I also don’t love the way I look right now, especially since I have not had a haircut in months. I learned recently I can hide my own display which significantly decreases my stress level. Another big distraction for me is a chaotic background; I encourage people to have a plain background without a lot going on; it’s easy to feel overstimulated when looking into five or ten different rooms full of lots of stuff. I sometimes become curious about books on the bookshelves, interesting furniture pieces, etc in the different homes and sometimes lose focus.
I’m often tempted to check texts, file my nails or do just about anything else that can’t be seen onscreen during a video call. However, research shows trying to do multiple tasks at once can decrease performance by as much as 40 percent…40 percent! Also, people who multitask can’t remember things as well as their more focused peers according to a study conducted at Stanford.
Take a mini- break if you can
If you find you need to excuse yourself for a moment to stand up or to rest your eyes, it’s usually ok to do so. Your colleagues or friends on the call will understand. Walk away or turn off the video portion of the call for a quick minute if an opportunity arises.
Suggest a phone conversation
Sometimes the phone is better, especially when the conversation is only two or three people. I like the break from the constant eye contact and the opportunity to walk around while I talk, which helps me think better.
The bottom line
There is no doubt video applications like zoom are very useful. This technology provides us with some form of normal life while hunkered down at home, allowing business and personal relationships to continue. For some people though, myself included, this type of interaction can be somewhat problematic. For others, such as those who are self-conscious in physical meetings, a video call might offer a more comfortable option.
Can you relate to “Zoom Fatigue“? We would love to hear your thoughts! Share your perspective in the comment section below.