3 Tips to Combat Zoom Fatigue — From a CEO Who Started Her Company During COVID

I co-founded August right before the COVID-19 pandemic. We started building the brand and community and seeking funding a few months before the world went into lockdown. All those investor meetings, press interviews, content brainstorming, team bonding events that usually occur in person — all happened virtually over Zoom. And y’all, Zoom fatigue is REAL!

Virtual meetings have skyrocketed, with hundreds of millions happening daily, as social distancing protocols have kept people apart physically. Even now, as mandates are lifting, many companies and organizations are still utilizing virtual platforms like Zoom to conduct meetings. However, videoconferencing inevitably results in physical fatigue, social fatigue, and emotional fatigue. Zoom has been so synonymously associated with virtual meetings that the term “Zoom fatigue” is now used to describe the negative impacts of videoconferencing.  

zoom fatigue

What causes Zoom fatigue?

So, why exactly are these Zoom meetings so exhausting? Stanford researchers have identified four main causes for Zoom fatigue: 

  1. Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense
  2. Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing
  3. Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility
  4. The cognitive load is much higher in video chats.

These researchers even developed a Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue Scale, or ZEF Scale, to help measure how much fatigue people are experiencing in the workplace from videoconferencing. Interestingly, in this paper, the same researchers found that women experience higher levels of Zoom fatigue. Overall, one in seven women – 13.8 percent – compared with one in 20 men – 5.5 percent – reported feeling “very” to “extremely” fatigued after Zoom calls.

Furthermore, the researchers’ preliminary data shows that people of color reported a slightly higher level of Zoom fatigue compared with white participants. It’s eye opening to see how this aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic and working remotely disproportionately impacts marginalized communities.

So, you’re probably wondering how to combat this wretched Zoom fatigue! Below is a non-exhaustive list of tips that I utilize in my day-to-day life to counter the detriments of virtual meetings. 

1. Hide self-view

This is something many people aren’t conscious of, but it’s so important! It’s not normal for us to talk in conversations where we can just stare at ourselves. Imagine if you walked around all day and a person followed you with a mirror so you’re always able to see yourself. There are cited studies showing that when you see a reflection of yourself, you are more critical of yourself — and many of us are now seeing ourselves on video chats for many hours every day.

Beverly Hills plastic surgeon David Rosenberg said patients, old and new, are coming in with what he calls ‘Zoom anxiety’ thanks to the new normal of interacting with others on camera. “People have been seeing themselves up close at these meetings and it’s freaking them out,” Dr. Rosenberg said.

So, the simple solution is to hide your self-view! Not only is this less emotionally taxing, but I’ve also noticed that I’m also more focused on the actual interaction occurring on my screen. Hiding self-view also challenges ourselves to really love who we are, feel comfortable in our bodies, and start to be more forgiving with ourselves.

Not sure how to hide self-view in Zoom? Hover over your video and click the ellipses button in your video to display the menu, then choose Hide Self View.

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

It’s so easy for us to get drawn into our screens and forget our natural needs, such as eating and drinking water. Dehydration can lead to a host of health complications, from urinary and kidney problems to strokes and seizures. So, I constantly have a few fluids around me — whether it be coffee, tea, or full water bottles.

Not to mention, drinking more water leads to more bathroom breaks, which means more movement and less time being sedentary! This leads perfectly into my next tip…

3. Work out / move

Instead of physically walking around between meetings or to meetings, we now hop from Zoom link to Zoom link. One essential tip to combat Zoom fatigue is just to walk and move around and wake your body up! I try to work out at least once a day. Whether you’re just walking around your apartment or fitting in a quick yoga session, it’s so important that you’re not stuck at your desk all day.

After a long day of Zooms, one of my favorite ways to recharge is just allowing myself to rest. One of the best ways to combat toxic productivity is allowing myself to rest and sleep! Calling an early night and getting some good sleep is so essential for my health. 

There is no doubt that the pandemic has fundamentally shifted the workforce. Remote work is here to stay, so learning how to combat Zoom fatigue proactively will help you have a better work-life balance and help you feel more energized and less drained from your workday.

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About Nadya Okamoto

Nadya Okamoto is a 23-year-old Harvard student. In early 2020, Okamoto co-founded August, a lifestyle brand working to reimagine periods. As the Today Show describes, “August is a growing online community aiming to "re-imagine and redefine the period experience to be powerful and dignified," with members who engage in conversations about how to properly use menstrual cups or what it's like to be a transgender man having a period, for example.” Nadya Okamoto is also the Founder of PERIOD (period.org), an organization fighting to end period poverty and stigma that she founded at the age of 16. Under her leadership as Executive Director for five years, PERIOD addressed over 1.5 million periods and registered over 800 campus chapters in all 50 states and 50 other countries. In 2017, Nadya ran for public office in Cambridge, MA at age 19 — at the time, becoming the youngest Asian American to run. In 2018, Nadya published her debut book, Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement with publisher Simon & Schuster, which made the Kirkus Reviews list for Best Young Adult Nonfiction of 2018. Nadya is also the former Chief Brand Officer and current Board Member of JUV Consulting, a Generation Z marketing agency based in NYC. She has been recognized on the lists of Forbes 30 under 30, Bloomberg 50 “Ones to Watch” and People Magazine's Women Changing the World.