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5 Effective Ways to Save Yourself from Zoom Burnout in 2021

No early morning hustle to board the metro for office. No frantic run for lectures. Just clicks away, at the convenience of your home. Yet, you feel worn-out and drained after the online lectures and meetings. This is what we call Zoom burnout or Zoom fatigue, also sometimes referred to as ‘Zoom gloom’.

Physical exertion is less or even zero during video calls and meetings (be it on any platform like Google Meet, Skype, FaceTime, BlueJeans, etc.), but these take a harder toll on your brain than face-to-face conversations. This burns you out soon.

The Reason:

When you talk with someone face-to-face, your words, gestures, postures, and facial expressions together convey the meaning. On video calls, however, you are forced to bring out the whole essence through your words alone, and the slightly visible facial expression (mostly black squares :P). And when you are the listener, your brain takes an extra effort to find the hidden non-verbal cues. This makes the creation of rapport between the speaker and the listener hard, demanding more attention and energy.

Often during the video calls, we end up staring at our faces throughout the whole session (in case you turn on your video). This ‘constant gaze’ is disadvantageous as they make us hyper-aware about ourselves. And when it’s for a long duration, it suffocates the brain.

Frozen video, lack of eye contact, and awkward silences due to technical delays make video calls even more exhausting. And working from home gives you the added stress of handling home life and work-life from the same space, each interfering with the other.

Like physical burnout, Zoom burnout doesn’t make a sudden appearance; it seeps in slowly. If left untended, it may trail into depression and other greater harm to health. Zoom has already made its way into most of our lives, and uprooting it completely is more like a far-fetched unattainable reality.

These are some of the best ways that would prove helpful to you if you are someone who spends a reasonable amount of time on any video meet platforms.

1. Default to single-tasking when on Zoom calls.

This might seem hard, at least to some of you. The truth is that multi-tasking doesn’t finish the work faster but prolongs it and is an added stressor when you have to process the information on the video calls. We are tempted to check emails and reply to messages during Zoom calls. Multitasking reduces productivity by 40% and affects cognitive ability, resulting in faster burnouts. Mails and messages can wait for another 15 minutes. It isn’t wise to risk your health to get everything done soon, and that too in a haphazard manner. You should try the “touch it once” rule.

Tip: note-taking on a paper just as you would do in a real meeting at the office would increase your focus on a single thing.

2. Don’t brain-drain with gallery view; use ‘speaker view’.

To focus on every face that is popping at you is hard. It gives your brain added load and makes it hard to focus on what is really needed. We get easily distracted by the unnecessary- the wall-hanging behind your colleague or the kid who is popping every now and then onto his mamma’s screen. Speaker view allows you to concentrate on the speaker, his words, and cues (if any).

Tip: turning off ‘Self-View’ helps to avoid hyper self-consciousness.

3. ‘Breakdown’ your break.

Ever tried to meet clients back-to-back so that you could take a long break later in the day? The ‘long break’ is a mirage, and that is why you need to serve yourself short breaks during work.

Every 30 minutes or so, try minimizing your video conferencing screen and let your mind wander away, just like how you would stare out of the window of your office or class when you feel bored. I assure you, it works wonders. And if you are the host, don’t hesitate to allow your participants to saunter away from the virtual room for a few seconds. They’d thank you for it.

Tip: stretch your body by walking around for few minutes between the meetings. Get off the seat!

4. Old-school is always cool.

Going back to emails and phone calls would never make you stand less in comparison to those who always ‘zoom’. Video calls are an uninvited invasion of your privacy, and when conversing with new clients who are strangers, video calls might be nerve-wracking. Hence, try to limit your video calls to the most important and the inevitable- the art of prioritizing. Communicate through emails, Slack chats, Whatsapp texts, or any other internal communication platform of your office.

FaceTiming your employees every now and then to micromanage them stresses them even more and decreases productivity. An update can always be done through emails and texts- less demanding

Tip: avoiding update meetings on video calls (unless it is necessary) makes you employee-friendly.

5. Schedule ‘No-Screen’ time every day.

Being glued to the screen all the time would affect your eyesight, make you an insomniac, and even make you a non-empathetic human! ‘No-screen’ time shouldn’t be confined to just two hours before bed. Expand it as your screen-time expands. Spending time with the plants in your balcony, a quick walk down the street, star gazing all alone, listening to your favorite Spotify list (not by scrolling your Instagram feed :P), penning down a journal, and such would help you heal the Zoom burnout of the day.

Tip: Spend time with your family or friends in an involved way that makes them feel the charms of the real world and strengthens your relations.

It’s up to us to make the best of it without letting it sap the best out of us. Video calls were considered a novelty and a gift of technology before the pandemic struck. It is, even now. But it should never become a substitute for reality, but rather should augment your reality.

If your friend feels burned out due to continual video calls and meets, encourage them to follow these tips. Also, try spending time with them and hear them out. But, NOT on Zoom again. A real meeting. Send him/her a bouquet of real flowers or a note handwritten. These ‘real things’ might be the charms they need to break away from the spells of the virtual world.

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