Tips for Combating Zoom Fatigue

A very tired woman

With the spring semester in full swing, students, faculty and staff members are finding themselves spending hours on end in front of screens and in video calls. People are increasingly experiencing burnout and fatigue, likely resulting from a phenomenon aptly coined “Zoom fatigue.” 

Harvard Business Review has offered five research-based tips to help combat this fatigue:

  • Avoid multitasking. Research shows that attempting to do multiple things at once can negatively impact your performance and productivity. When on a video call, close any additional tabs or programs that might distract you, put away your phone and try to stay present and attentive.
  • Build in breaks. Remember to look away from your computer for a few seconds or longer every now and then, even during meetings. Let your eyes rest for a moment and then return your attention to the call. Also try to give yourself time between meetings or classes to move around and maybe get outside.
  • Reduce onscreen stimuli. If you find yourself gazing at your own Zoom box during meetings, try hiding yourself from view and directing your attention to the speaker. Also consider using a plain background, if possible, and encouraging others to, as this will help to alleviate onscreen distractions.
  • Make virtual social events opt-in. When hosting virtual social events, remind others that they are welcome, but not obligated, to join. When the work and or school schedule is already full of meetings and screen time, it can be even more draining to do the same thing outside of it.
  • Switch to phone calls or email. Try taking a break from video calls, when possible, and having conversations via phone or email instead. 

Jai Jackson, assistant vice provost for faculty engagement in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity, has observed some of the effects of virtual learning over the past year. “Zoom fatigue can be stressful on your mind and body. Our average screen time between mobile devices and personal computers has skyrocketed and, without the need to transition between physical meetings, we have placed greater emphasis on back-to-back video engagements. Reclaim your off-screen time and focus on self-care. If you have to, schedule ‘bio breaks’ and off-screen time. Prioritize your health and wellness.”

During this time, there are a number of stressors faced by students, faculty and staff, and we recognize that. The university offers a number of resources for students and families as well as faculty and staff, ranging from counseling to wellness and recreation facilities to funding resources and more. 

Jenna Nabors (she/her) is a fourth-year student majoring in communication with minors in international studies, journalism and English and a Park Scholar. Share your thoughts about this article on Twitter at @NCStateOIED.