Zoom Fatigue Is a Real Thing

George Jetson never seemed overly exhausted when he talked to Jane on their video phone, but as the pandemic is forcing us to learn new ways of communicating safely and Zoom becomes the medium of choice, we’re finding that Zoom Fatigue is affecting a lot of people.

Millions of years of evolution have not prepared our brains to handle communications on Zoom, and people report a sense of fatigue, an exhaustion after participating in a number of Zoom meetings.

“Humans have a tendency to mirror the person that they’re speaking to, or try to reflect them in some way, and it’s unconscious behavior that we all engage in when we try to connect with another person,” says Dr. Natalia David, a psychologist with the UT Southwestern Peter O’Donnell Jr Brain Institute in Dallas. In the video posted below, she explains that our brains just aren’t wired for Zoom meetings, and trying to take in and interpret all the cues from however many people are participating in the call can almost make a brain feel short-circuited. “70% of communication is body language, and while we’re still face-to-face, we still miss out on the normal body cues we get with people, or even if we’re in a room with a lot of people,” says Dr. David.

There are two things you can do if you find yourself mentally exhausted after Zoom meetings.The first is to limit the number of Zoom conversation you’re having, if possible, to something more manageable. If you’re the manager, be sensitive to what meeting attendance is taking out of your personnel. And the second is to walk away after a call.Get up and walk. Shake it off. Movement will help your brain realign itself, taking familiar cues from your surroundings.

Zoom fatigue is a new phenomenon in people’s work lives and personal endeavors, so its impact on mental functions is just coming in to focus for people who understand how brains work. They are reassuring people that it’s normal to be tired after a Zoom meeting. We’re all learning this brave new world.

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