When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, people everywhere stayed home from work, school, activities and errands to put their health and others’ health first. Starting in March of 2020, more people logged on to their video conferencing apps, social media feeds and other online platforms to keep in touch with their family and friends.
Technology has offered plenty of opportunities to stay connected with those you love and care about in your life. However, it can quickly take over your life and make you feel worse when you have video conference after video conference. If those video calls are tiring you out, you might be suffering from virtual fatigue.
What is virtual fatigue?
Virtual fatigue, also known as Zoom fatigue, has been prompted by the boost in video conferencing and online or remote work due to the pandemic. Hundreds of millions of video calls happen every day, as a way for people to continue to keep in touch with colleagues, family and friends while following social distancing protocols.
Zoom fatigue is the exhaustion you feel after video calls. It’s a real thing, and although there’s no formal diagnosis, millions of people experience this every day. You have to maintain eye contact more regularly, get anxious about seeing yourself in the video, stay in one location and use more mental effort to pick up social cues through video calling.
As with most good things, like virtual connectedness, there’s a cost. Here are four signs you’re dealing with virtual fatigue and how to disconnect.
Sore eyes during and after virtual work
One of the main symptoms of virtual fatigue is sore eyes. Sore eyes and vision problems already affect people who work on computers all day, and an excessive amount of video calls only worsens eye issues. Eyes are not meant for staring at screens all day, so when you make those video calls and focus on multiple people, it can cause eye irritation, excessive blinking and blurred vision.
Feeling fatigued during calls
Video calls have certainly become the new normal, and there are often many difficulties when hosting or being part of an online meeting. Some people may have trouble connecting their microphones, there could be dropped connections, others experience glitches and some forget to show up. Technical issues can make one feel exhausted and cause the meeting to go on much longer, resulting in more fatigue and frustration.
Anxiety when turning on the camera
In a non-digital setting, you’re in your regular work office and know what you need to do to be presentable for work. There’s still research about proper online etiquette, and some people experience extreme anxiety when they have to turn on the camera at home. Turning on a video call at home exposes the inside of your home to others. Plus, you may worry about how you present yourself on camera.
Lack of focus or forgetfulness
The final sign of virtual fatigue is a lack of focus and forgetfulness. Issues with focus are prevalent during video calls. Again, you might be at home with other distractions, like a child, a pet or chores. Plus, when a video call happens in the middle of the day, employees have to stop their work and join the call, and then they’re expected to get back into the right mindset for work, causing unnecessary stress and a delay from work productivity.
9 ways to disconnect
Fortunately, you don’t have to get caught up in the virtual realm, and there are plenty of ways to disconnect. Disconnecting from video calls as much as you can will help you deal with this fatigue. Below are a few methods to limit the fatigue you may be experiencing from video conferencing and online remote work.
Know when you need to tap out
First, you need to know when to finish up the video call. If you’re getting a headache, have blurry vision or have extreme anxiety, kindly dismiss yourself. Let your supervisor know that you’ve been experiencing virtual fatigue and need a break from it to be your most productive self.
Create a tech-free space
Working online all day is tiring, even without video calls. Create a tech-free space in your home to resort to when you’ve had enough of the screens. Relax with some books, your furry friend or calming music, and no screens.
Focus on one task at a time
When you’re working from home, you may feel the need to multitask, both with your online work and with household chores. This can get extremely tiring, so focus on one task at a time. Set boundaries for your screen time and focus on getting one thing done before moving on to another.
Space out and reduce your calls
If you can schedule your calls and space them out, so you have more screen-free time, then do so. Reduce your overall amount of video calls and resort to phone calls or emails to relieve the fatigue.
Seek a therapist
In some cases, you may feel extremely overwhelmed and anxious about video calls, as they require so much focus and worry about online presentation. If you’re very overwhelmed, seek therapy to help you cope with this anxiety and to learn methods for becoming less anxious.
Plan non-digital activities
When you’re done with your online work for the day, avoid resorting to the television or your phone. Instead, plan disconnected activities that don’t require screens, like reading a book, getting coffee with a friend or going for a walk.
Rest your eyes with the 20-20-20 method
Sometimes, you’re required to be online for work, and you need to work to make money, so you can’t log off. Try resting your eyes as much as possible with the 20-20-20 technique, though. After 20 minutes of looking at a screen, stare at something else that’s 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help your eyes readjust and relax.
Try meditation or exercise
When you need a break from the screens or have a temptation to look at your phone or laptop, opt for meditation or exercise. Start positive, healthy habits instead of relying on screens for entertainment or resting purposes. Mindfulness can help set your mind up for a good day, even if it involves looking at screens.
Log off social media
Finally, log off social media and stay away from your phone or laptop whenever possible, or deactivate your accounts if you can. It’s easy to hit the app every time, but if you intentionally log off, it’ll make you more aware of when you’re accessing your screens, and it’ll be more of a hassle. You can also disable phone notifications to help yourself avoid social accounts.
Take a valuable step—away from technology
If you think you’re suffering from virtual fatigue, it’s in your best interest to take the necessary steps to rest and get away from screens for a while. You’ll notice a boost in your productivity and mental health when you can control the time you spend online.
«RELATED READ» How to Control YouTube Addiction»
image 1: Pixabay; image 2: Pixabay