So many jobs, including teaching, are currently being done over Zoom or other online platforms these days, and many will continue being remote for the foreseeable future. It isn’t just teachers who must contend with living large amounts of their lives online. Children are also learning and playing via online platforms now. While these platforms have been outstanding in the way they have allowed people to continue to attend work or school while remaining at home, they can also become exhausting for many.
What is Zoom fatigue?
Zoom fatigue has gone from a completely unknown term to a common complaint as people find that hours spent in online meetings can drain their energy and exhaust them. Many people find video conferencing requires far higher levels of concentration in comparison to in-person meetings. Human brains naturally try to interpret nonverbal cues and facial expressions, but this can be far more difficult when being done during a video conference. This is especially difficult and exhausting when you’re trying to interpret facial expressions via poor quality video or trying to understand someone’s tone of voice despite poor sound quality.1
People who are more introverted can often find it exhausting and stressful to be forced to be in front of a camera for extended periods of time. This can be especially nerve-wracking as they are often forced to look at the video of themselves as well. More extroverted people can also find video conferencing exhausting. This is often because they don’t get the same level and type of social interaction from a video conference as they would get from meeting with people in person.2
There can be a physical aspect of Zoom fatigue, too, as people spend all day sitting in front of computers in their homes. This can lead to sore backs, eye strain, and headaches. Psychology Today notes that “hours spent in one position at furniture never designed for long-term sitting can leave us feeling cranky, achy, and a lot worse about life than if we had a breakroom to roam over to visit.” 3
Self-care for teaching online can take a variety of forms. Self-care for teachers isn’t necessarily different from many of the self-care practices for other professions who must currently work primarily online. Simply being kind to yourself and accepting that teaching online during a pandemic is difficult is step one of the process. Even teachers used to teaching online experience burnout from time to time. Often you don’t even notice how much this stress is wearing on you until “something happens to trigger an uncharacteristic response.”4 Checking in on yourself regularly and practicing self-care can help prevent snapping at family or being too burned out to take care of other tasks.
Self Care Inventory
- Check-in with yourself every half hour or so to scan for muscle tightness or tension. Taking short breaks to stretch can help reduce or even prevent muscle tension
- Make sure you are working in a room with good lighting and that you take short breaks of looking away from the computer to help prevent eye dryness and strain. You may also find it helpful to adjust the lighting on your computer to minimize the amount of blue light. Blue light glasses can also be beneficial for this.5
- Make sure you are staying well hydrated and are not hungry. Without an office break room or water cooler, you may have to be more conscious of when to take a break. Try to avoid mindlessly eating overly sweet or salty food. Instead, save these treats for designated times when you can really appreciate them.6
- Try to spend some time outside. This can help boost your mood and improve your sleep cycle. Morning sun can be especially beneficial. Try to schedule an early morning walk or at least spend a few minutes outside while enjoying your breakfast or coffee.7
- Protect your sleep schedule. If you have a job requiring waking up and being in front of a computer early in the morning, don’t be embarrassed to go to bed early, even if this means declining the occasional zoom happy hour with friends.
- Find ways to connect with friends and family that don’t always involve Zoom. If your job requires you to use video conferencing, then you may want to take a break from those platforms when it comes time to socialize. Consider an old-fashioned phone call, socializing outdoors at a distance, or even sending letters.
- Be kind to yourself. Working on Zoom and having minimal in-person interactions with students and coworkers is an adjustment for everyone. There are going to be days when it just isn’t going to go as well as you might hope. Accept and learn from that and use a break to reset. This is a learning process for everyone.
Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have been excellent for allowing work and school to continue during a global pandemic. This doesn’t mean that they are without drawbacks. Being cognizant of if and when these platforms drain your energy can help you be your best self both during and after working hours.
Citations for Fight Zoom Fatigue: Self-care for Teaching Online:
1,2 Slocum, S. (2020, April 30). 13 Ways To Combat Zoom Fatigue. Retrieved January 08, 2021, from https://www.engineersrising.com/blog/zoomfatigue
3, 4 Degges-White, S. (2020, April 04). Zoom Fatigue: Don’t Let Video Meetings Zap Your Energy. Retrieved January 08, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lifetime-connections/202004/zoom-fatigue-dont-let-video-meetings-zap-your-energy
5 Ellis, R. (2019, December 16). Blue Light Glasses – Helpful or Just Hype? Retrieved January 08, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/news/20191216/do-blue-light-glasses-work
6, 7 Moore, T. (2020, April 14). Teacher self-care: Tips for working from home: Pearson Blog. Retrieved January 08, 2021, from https://www.pearsoned.com/teacher-self-care-tips-working-home/
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Lauren Krystaf has been teaching with ALO7 since 2017 and loves having the opportunity to teach English from anywhere with an internet connection. She enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Lauren has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from SUNY Buffalo and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Drexel University. She also has a 120 hour TESOL certificate. Lauren is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Phi Mu honor societies.