With the rise of social distancing, video chat platforms like Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and others are seeing a surge in popularity. There’s a good reason for this: video calls give us the chance to connect with others during a time when many of us are feeling particularly isolated. But video socializing can be hard on the brain. While video calls are a great way to maintain connections, it’s important to know that “Zoom Fatigue” (a feeling of anxiety, worry, or tiredness associated with video calls) exists and learn how to avoid it.
Reduce Onscreen Distractions
Our screens are distracting. Go somewhere quiet if you can, turn off notifications so you aren’t getting other messages during your conversation, and try changing your settings so you can’t see your own face on the screen.
Although onscreen distractions are tempting, do yourself and your conversational partner a favor by not scrolling through Facebook or doing other things while you’re talking. Remember, this is your time together, so when you’re on a video call, choose to be as fully present as though you were seeing each other in-person.
Alleviate Eye Strain
While the jury is out about glasses that filter out blue light, some people swear by them. Others find it helpful to use their computer’s night shift mode during the day to reduce eye fatigue.
More evidenced-based ideas include using the 20/20/20 rule to alleviate eye strain. Every 20 minutes, look at an object approximately 20 feet away for 20 seconds. In addition, make sure you’re sitting 25 inches or an arm’s length away from the computer screen and tilt it downward to reduce glare. Room lighting is also important; adjusting the lighting so that you’re not staring at a bright screen in a dark room.
Another potential cause of of eyestrain is staring at devices without blinking for long periods of time. Normally, we blink about 15 or more times a minute. You can go down to 7 times pretty easily when you’re staring at your computer screen. So actively blinking more often may be helpful.
Mix it Up
Remember, you don’t always have to communicate via video. Try mixing things up by using old-fashioned phone calls, email, or snail mail to stay in touch. This allows you to maintain connections while giving your brain a break from the demands of video calls.
No matter how technologically savvy we are, we’re used to doing most of our socializing and communicating in-person—that’s the way our brains are wired. However, it’s still possible to make use of technology to stay in touch with loved ones during lockdown, as long as you take a few basic steps to avoid Zoom fatigue.