One thing that’s been prevalent during the COVID-19 lockdown is the increasing number of Zoom users across different business spectrums but with the lack of human-to-human communication many have no better alternatives than to stick with the existing mode of communication.
Zoom Fatigue is the outcome of this long haul of virtual meeting dependence which is currently the issue many business professionals and employees are facing in their virtual jobs.
And if you’re feeling the same, Scientists have a research backing the phenomenon up thanks to researchers from the Stanford University which have released a first-ever peer-reviewed study of the psychological effects of video meeting fatigue.
In the paper, published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior, researcher Jeremy Bailenson identifies four core causes of videoconferencing exhaustion, as well as methods for countering its ill effects. Below are some of the methods you can use in countering Zoom Fatigue.
Close up eyes can be overwhelming
Video chats are inherently unnatural. Both the amount of eye contact we engage in during video chats, as well as the size of faces on screens, is not something we would experience in normal face-to-face meetings, says Bailenson.
During a normal meeting, people usually move between looking at the speaker, taking notes or just distracting themselves with something else in the room but you’re not usually allowed this luxury in a Zoom chat because everyone is constantly staring at the screen which basically increase eye contact.
This is not something we are used to, Bailenson explains. “Social anxiety of public speaking is one of the biggest phobias that exist in our population. When you’re standing up there and everybody’s staring at you, that’s a stressful experience.”
Another thing that can be disconcerting is the presence of numerous close-up heads which could trick the brain into thinking you’re in an intense situation – since this is usually the only time that people’s face would be so close to yours in a real-life setting explains Bailenson.
“What’s happening, in effect, when you’re using Zoom for many, many hours is you’re in this hyper-aroused state.”
Solution: Take Zoom out of full-screen mode or reduce the size of the app windows to make faces appear smaller on-screen, and sit further away from the screen.
Seeing your face constantly can lead to unhealthy self examination
One thing that can be exhausting at times is the fact that you’re constantly looking at your own very face which can be a reminiscent of staring at a mirror. Sometimes we keep thinking at the back of our heads whether we’re perfect or not as well as other unnecessary self-awareness.
No wonder, then, that seeing ourselves on video chats multiple times a day is so exhausting. “It’s taxing on us. It’s stressful. And there’s lots of research showing that there are negative emotional consequences to seeing yourself in a mirror,” says Bailenson.
Solution: Hide yourself from view in the chat window.
It’s unnatural to sit still for a really long period and talk
Most real-life presentations are done standing as moving around help relieve pressures that might be felt due to the situation but in the case of virtual video conference meetings, the situation is usually reversed which isn’t natural by any means.
There’s in fact a scientific basis behind the notion that getting up and moving around can help get the neurons firing. “There’s a growing research now that says when people are moving, they’re performing better cognitively,” Bailenson says.
Solution: Creating more space between yourself and the camera. Get an external keyboard if you’re using a laptop, and think about the space your video calling in. You can also turn off the camera if you want to move around a bit.
Communication can be daunting in itself
Non-verbal communication makes up a large part of our face-to-face interactions and its inherent to our behavior. Whenever someone is speaking through video calls, being able to convey our feelings usually need a harder thought and the way it’s being interpreted can also have its effect on the communication and that in itself can be a really taxing situation for the brain.
“You’ve got to make sure that your head is framed within the center of the video. If you want to show someone that you are agreeing with them, you have to do an exaggerated nod or put your thumbs up,” says Bailenson.
“That adds cognitive load as you’re using mental calories in order to communicate.”
Solution: This once again comes down to switching off the camera and giving yourself an audio-only break. Here, however, Bailenson suggests you actually turn your entire body away from the screen in order to escape “gestures that are perceptually realistic but socially meaningless.”
With all that said, being able to understand the situation and constantly staying in control as well as trying to replicate a little bit of real-life situation during the virtual meeting can be helpful and reduce the Zoom Fatigue at least to some degree.
This post was originally published on Techrepublic.