After a year of companies adjusting to remote work policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom and other virtual meetings have become the norm for many. While they are great for keeping us connected and informed, a Stanford professor released a study on the psychological consequences of these meetings.
Why does videoconferencing make us feel so tired? The study outlines four reasons, including “eye gaze at a close distance,” “cognitive load,” “an all-day mirror,” and “reduced mobility.”
According to the Stanford report on the study, this means we are dealing with “excessive amounts of close-up eye contact.” The study also hypothesizes that “seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing,” hence looking in an “all day mirror.” The report also states that “video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility” and “the cognitive load is much higher in video chats.”
“Working remotely, most people have multiple virtual platforms and methods of communication that they are responsible for monitoring – e-mail, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, texting, voicemail,” said Gritzenbach. “This can feel scattered when trying to juggle all of these ‘inputs.’ The increased demands of multitasking is quite cognitively exhausting.”
Aside from Zoom fatigue, you may also be dealing with cyber sickness, “a technologically induced version of motion sickness.”
On how to feel better and improve symptoms of Zoom fatigue, Griztenbach recommends “five to 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation” which “can help the mind re-center on one focus, which can lead to an increased sense of calm.”
Staying active also can help. “One of the best ways to manage physical and mental fatigue is with exercise,” said Gritzenbach. “Stretches, jumping jacks, planks, even if only for one to two minutes total in between meetings can increase energy and clarity. A 20-minute walk outside can truly be a huge restart to the entire day.”
Griztenbach also expounded on the importance of “social connectedness to family and friends.” As we may be feeling more isolated, don’t forget to reach out to others “via phone calls, FaceTime, walks, or even texts.” Although we may have to be socially distant, “positive connection is essential to our overall wellness and happiness,” said Griztenbach.