“I feel drained after being on Zoom all day”: why Zoom fatigue is normal and what you can do about it

With prolonged screen time the new normal, here's how to combat the effects of feeling Zoomed out.

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Exhausted woman on bed

I teach a class every week for two hours at a university. It’s usually one of the highlights of my week. I leave the room feeling energised and alive. I enjoy the banter, the give and take with the students, the conversation, and the energy in the room.

With online learning the new normal, I now teach the exact same class online. Afterwards, I feel drained, exhausted – almost teary – especially if I’ve had multiple Zoom meetings during the day. Put simply, I’m Zoomed out. Same class, same content, same people – yet a completely different personal experience and impact on my wellbeing. What gives? 

If you’re feeling more tired than usual after logging many more hours of screen time than normal, please know that this is a completely normal response from moving from face-to-face interaction to online. 

We know from research that our brain responds so differently to face-to- face connection. We are, of course, social beings. We are wired for it. It enriches our personal experience and sense of connection. Research by Dr Fiona Kerr, Founder and CEO at the NeuroTech Institute tells us how meaningful eye-to-eye contact can increase oxytocin and dopamine and decrease our cortisol levels.

Now what’s the point, you may ask, of telling you this when the current circumstances mean prolonged screen time is simply unavoidable? 

The reasons are two-fold: firstly, it’s okay to not be 100% okay with our lives online. It’s ok to need and schedule fewer meetings during the day. It’s ok to want to limit non-essential screen time. Secondly, there are ways you can combat the effects of feeling Zoomed out. Here’s how.

Connect more meaningfully with those you do have contact with

Embrace lots of touching with your live-in loved ones. Look into their eyes. Hug them more, talk about things and look at each other. 

Watch a movie holding hands. Whatever it is, do it mindfully. I know, you’re probably ready to strangle them after being cooped up this long but meaningful connection will help.

Get in the soil 

Earth yourselves. After a day of Zoom teaching or meetings, I’m in the soil. Literally, I’m either wedding, planting or lying flat on my back on the grass. There is a significant amount of research on the benefits of earthing, and whether you’re a believer or not, we all know that getting into the open air, or into nature helps to heal us. Perhaps you could take your next Zoom meeting outside? 

Bathe in salted water

Permission to fill up the tub! Take the time to dim the lights, light a candle and soak in the tub. Pop some magnesium salt flakes in and let your body relax.

Put your Phone Down

When you stop ‘doing’ with your brain you allow the creative process to begin; daydreaming, wondering, remembering. Allow yourself to be bored, to look around and notice things without the need to grab your phone and scroll as soon as you have a moment.

Unplug from devices overnight

Turn off the wi-fi overnight. Keep a journal by the bed. You will sleep better, I promise you. This morning I woke up and did my meditation with my daughter Faith, aged nine, lying next to me. She asked if she could do one too! This was miraculous if you know Faith! So we meditated together. If meditation is not for you, try journaling, drawing, anything to help you start the day mindfully with intention. 

There are plenty of ways to recharge in this era of excessive screen time. What’s your go-to method? I’m getting off the screen now…I have some seeds to plant.

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