Tired after Zoom sessions? Here are 3 reasons why

Always feeling super exhausted after a video meeting/class, even if it’s only ten minutes long?

It’s not just you, and there are plenty of underlying reasons beyond social anxiety or lack of motivation. We share them below, along with ways to ease these unwanted side effects.

1) Zoom dysmorphia

While working and studying from home helps us minimise unwanted social interaction, the drawback is having to see yourself on screen a lot more.

This can be unnerving and even harmful for some of us. It’s hard not to scrutinise our faces and see flaw after flaw, unaware that our proximity to the computer camera lens (and its quality) can distort how we look. As a result, our self-image takes a hit and can result in a phenomenon known as ‘Zoom dysmorphia’.

In an article published by The Guardian Dr Shadi Kourosh, the dermatologist and professor who coined the term Zoom dysmorphia, shared how more individuals were looking to do cosmetic procedures because of society’s increased reliance on video calls—unconscious of the way technology distorts their features. If you’ve been feeling super insecure about your looks recently, we hope that keeping this phenomenon in mind helps.

If possible, consider hiding the ‘self-view’ on apps that allow this!

2) Zoom fatigue (physical)

When classes or meetings stretch on, they exacerbate the problems we already face from regular computer usage. These include dry eyes, stiffness from maintaining eye contact or a ‘proper’ posture, muscle tension, dehydration from drinking too little water, and more.

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Here’s a tip: have a flask of hot water and a bottle/jug of room temperature water prepared the moment you wake up! Put them by your work station alongside some of your favourite beverage mixes, and you’ll reach for water more often. Get a bottle of eyedrops ready too.

Remember to take quick stretches throughout the day to relax your muscles and let the tension escape!

3) Zoom fatigue (mental)

It may not feel like it, but our brains are working extra hard during a Zoom or Microsoft Teams call.

In the span of an hour (perhaps three), you will be

  • Trying to focus on the speaker(s) and catch helpful non-verbal cues, if any, and understand what they mean in a virtual call context
  • Trying to get used to the amount of people staring at you when you speak, and possibly tackling the anxiety of being on screen
  • Possibly self-conscious or hyperaware of your surroundings, and the technical failures that could occur. Not great during presentations…
  • Trying to process a video call’s audio. The sound quality in calls may have improved over time, but it could still be better; data loss makes our voices sound flat and we miss out on the spatial audio cues that face-to-face conversations offer.

With so much ongoing, it isn’t hard to see why we suffer from a cognitive overload. Our brains are fried, for lack of a better word, and they aren’t made for multi-tasking of this degree.

Here are some things that may help:

  • Switching on closed-captions/subtitles to make conversations easier to follow. You won’t get completely accurate transcriptions, but this may take some pressure off your brain and provide a good laugh in the process.
  • Agree with your groupmates or co-workers to only speak one at a time
  • Quickly switch your video off for a few seconds, take a deep breath or look away from the screen, and come back on

More general tips:

  • If you have group meetings/groupwork discussions on Zoom, agree to end punctually. This means that everyone needs to hold themselves/each other accountable for coming in on time and focusing on the work done. If your meeting is supposed to end in an hour, it should end in an hour unless there are unavoidable reasons.
  • Move yourself further away from your computer screen so that you will be less ‘close’ to your classmates or colleagues. This will help you feel like you have more personal space. An external camera may be useful! If moving away makes you too small, you could minimise the video display screen first.

If you have any strategies that have helped you, do let us know! Let’s help each other learn new things. We hope you take care of yourself!

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