As efforts to flatten the curve continue, many people are confined to their homes and relying on video technology to maintain a sense of human connection. However, this “high-intensity virtual connecting” can quickly transition from fun and productive to physically and emotionally exhausting.
Luckily, a few strategies can help you beat video burnout before it gets the best of you. Amanda Fialk, PhD, LCSW, LICSW, Partner and Chief of Clinical Services at The Dorm, shares how to stay virtually connected while steering clear of “Zoom fatigue.”
1. Be strategic with your screen time.
While you may rely on technology for remote work or distance learning, consider limiting your screen time during down time.
In particular, Fialk recommends avoiding looking at a screen shortly after waking up in the morning. So before diving into a long day of video conferences, kick things off with a non-tech activity.
“Aim to start the day screen-free,” says Fialk. “Take a walk, meditate, or simply spend some time chatting with your family.”
To create more balance throughout your day, Fialk suggests scheduling brief breaks in between video calls. This could be as simple as blocking 15 minutes to stretch and move around.
Fialk also explains that too much screen time before bed can disrupt your sleep cycle, but a little self-discipline makes all the difference.
“Be strategic about when your computer gets closed, and when your phone gets turned off,” says Fialk.
2. Establish healthy boundaries.
Feeling burnt out by persistent video calls from a friend or family member? It’s time to set better boundaries, while making sure to choose your words carefully.
“Without the ability to see each other face-to-face, communication is more important than ever,” says Fialk. “What we say and how we say it is really important.”
Fialk recommends using “I” statements instead of “you” statements, emphasizing the way that you feel without placing blame on the other person.
For instance, you may consider: “I’m feeling overwhelmed with so many Zoom calls this week, but I’m excited to connect with you. Can we coordinate a call early next week?”
Fialk explains that this language allows you to effectively get your point across, while ensuring that that your loved ones still feel appreciated.
3. Stay mindful of personal preferences.
While video communication may be considered “the new normal,” keep in mind that this transition isn’t quite so seamless for everyone.
“The concept of personal boundaries is more blurred than ever,” says Fialk. “Some people can have shame or embarrassment about personal space.”
For instance, the sudden shift from an office environment to remote work has required many employees to show hints of their home on camera for the first time. Others are multi-tasking in new ways, such as unexpectedly juggling child care during work hours.
Therefore, Fialk explains that it’s critical for managers to stay mindful from the start. This could mean communicating that it’s okay to take breaks from being on video when needed, or offering more flexibility for calls.
“Ask if they would prefer to connect over video or just the phone and be accepting of their response,” says Fialk.
4. Use technology for the right reasons.
From constant anger to looming fear, the state of the world has sparked a range of emotions for everyone.
While staying virtually connected may help you feel less alone, it’s important to avoid using technology as a way to suppress your emotions.
“Technology is a form of escapism and avoidance,” says Fialk. “It’s healthier to sit with our emotions, accepting and processing them.”
So the next time you catch yourself using technology to avoid your inner thoughts, try to switch gears and instead engage in self-reflection. You may choose to reflect quietly, or prefer writing in a journal.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to establish a renewed, compassionate, and understanding relationship with yourself,” says Fialk.