Have you been experiencing Zoom fatigue? Do you feel wiped out after video classes or meetings? Do your kids complain about exhaustion after a day of virtual school or lessons?
While it sounds like the stuff of urban legend, Zoom fatigue – or Zoom learning burnout – is actually a real thing. And it’s not exclusive to Zoom, but can occur with any other video meeting interface, like Google Hangouts, Skype, and FaceTime.
With schools, colleges, and extracurricular activities gone almost exclusively virtual, there’s a lot of online learning taking place across the country. Online learning that can be life-changing…as long as you can avoid burnout.
So, just why do these video calls wear us down? And, how can you and your kids avoid Zoom fatigue, so you and your family can make the very most of your online learning experiences?
Here’s Why Zoom Fatigue Happens…
Zoom learning burnout gets to you because, in a nutshell, your brain has to work extra hard to process online video calls.
1. Your Brain Is Working Overtime
As humans, a huge portion of our communication is non-verbal. From posture to facial expressions, tone of voice to gestures, and even the distance we stand apart from one another; we’re constantly sharing and interpreting information through subtle, silent cues. And because we’re social beings, most of us process these cues automatically, without even trying.
On a video call, nearly all of that non-verbal communication is lost. All the subtleties of facial expression, gestures, and body language are flattened out or hidden entirely. This means your brain has a tough job to do. Instead of subconsciously interpreting non-verbal cues so it can consciously digest spoken words, your brain jumps into the driver’s seat, both trying to interpret non-verbal cues while also taking in complex spoken information.
This overexertion – repeated throughout the day every day – is exhausting for youngsters, teens, and adults alike.
2. You’re Probably Feeling Self-Conscious
“Is that really what I look like?” you might ask yourself, “Do I seem like I’m focused and paying attention to my teacher?”
Not only are we working extra hard to interpret non-verbal cues in a video call, but we’re also distracted when we see our own face looking back at us, usually for the duration of a video call.
It can be challenging to pay close attention to what a teacher (or friend or colleague) is saying, when you’re also judging your hair, your clothing, and your background, and on top of that, worrying about whether or not you appear interested.
This self-awareness is a distraction for learners of every age, and it means that your brain has to work harder than ever to focus on the actual content of the lesson, class, or meeting.
3. Video Calls Lack the Recharge of Rituals
Recurring meetings, lessons, and classes not only act as knowledge-sharing events, but they’re also important rituals that we depend on for a sense of predictability, safety, and comfort.
In addition to relying on the safety of recurring events, humans attribute meanings to different physical spaces. You might associate a classroom with creative problem solving. Maybe you associate a meeting room with teamwork and collaboration. Or maybe your child associates their teacher’s studio with a feeling of achievement.
Unfortunately, our virtual meeting spaces don’t anchor us in the same way as the physical spaces we’re used to. That means we’re not getting the same sense of reassurance from our lessons and classes.
4. Your Eyes Aren’t Designed for This
While in-person, you’ll interpret and communicate information in a thousand, subtle ways, in a video call, your eyes stare at a screen or camera to both interpret information, and to demonstrate your interest.
What’s more, multi-person screens where all the members of a class are displayed as thumbnail videos heighten this problem. Gallery view challenges the brain’s central vision, which means your brain is working extra hard to decode each of the onscreen images. As a result, none of the images registers in a meaningful way.
5. Of Course… Distractions Abound
“How do I hear my teacher over the radio?” “What if my brothers and sisters run into the room during my piano lesson?” “Will my dog be able to sleep through this next meeting or will she interrupt?”
Because we’re not in the focused safety of a physical classroom or lesson room, distractions abound – from siblings to parents, to noise from the radio or TV. These distractions cause us anxiety, and as a consequence, we exert even more energy to focus on lessons and classes.
What Can You Do To Avoid Zoom Fatigue?
Luckily, there are easy steps you can take to reduce Zoom fatigue, so you and your family can avoid Zoom learning burnout and make the most of your online learning opportunities.
1. Hide Self-View
One of the elements that make virtual meetings so stressful is constantly seeing an image of yourself on-screen.
To change this, turn on your camera at the beginning of the meeting, check that your lighting is effective and that you can be seen. Then, turn on “Hide Self View” so that you can embark on your class, lesson, or meeting without the distraction of your own face staring back at you.
This can be helpful for young learners as well as adults. None of us are used to looking at our own reflection throughout the duration of a lesson, and “Hide Self View” gives you the opportunity to fully focus on your learning.
2. Avoid Multitasking
It is extremely tempting, for learners of all ages, to be in a Zoom class, text with a friend, respond to a slack message, and type an email, while also taking notes and trying to engage in the learning environment.
This kind of constant multitasking is tempting, especially in group classes or during school time when it’s easy to multitask and may feel more likely that a teacher won’t notice. However, it’s impossible to fully absorb your lesson information while tackling other work. Instead, focus on the lesson at hand, and encourage your kiddos to do so also.
3. Give Yourself a Break
Kids and adults alike absorb information more fully when breaks are built into the learning process. Give your mind and body a chance to recharge, so you can return to your lessons or meetings refreshed and invigorated. Go for a walk, have a snack. Make a cup of coffee, or do a short yoga practice. If you can, go outside in between lessons or meetings for short bursts of exercise.
Learners of all ages need breaks, and by taking them frequently, you’ll have more success in your learning.
4. Bring Your Meetings With You
In addition to video calls with teachers and co-workers, lots of us are scheduling in video chats with friends and family. These often extend a day already spent in video lessons, classes, and meetings. When it comes time to catch up with friends and family, try replacing your video chat time with a phone call. Even better, grab your phone, and take your call outside for a stroll.
By replacing social video chats with walking catch-ups, your brain has more of a chance to recharge, and you can approach your essential video calls with more energy.
5. Reduce Onscreen Stimuli
Because so much of our school, work, and social life is now virtual, kids and adults alike are spending a lot more time on-screen; whether in class, doing homework, or simply staying connected to friends.
When you or your kids have downtime, find creative ways to be off-screen. Instead of finishing up the day with a movie or a video game, take a family walk, play cards, or cook dinner together. Have arts and craft supplies handy, and listen to a book on tape or a podcast while you paint.
You want to approach the screen time that is essential with energy and enthusiasm, so use your recharge time to do just that… recharge!
You Can Avoid Zoom Fatigue and Zoom Learning Burnout Today!
Zoom fatigue can wear you out, and ruin an otherwise rewarding and productive day. Take the simple steps above to help yourself and/or your child refresh, reboot, and avoid Zoom learning burnout. This way, every lesson and class is an opportunity for game-changing growth.
TakeLessons is here to support your learning experience, whether your child needs tutoring assistance to excel in school, or you’re looking to expand your own skillset. Browse lessons today to make online learning work for you!