Can’t quite understand why you feel so exhausted? Could it be due to the constant yelling at your child to get off Netflix and do their homework, which by the way, you haven’t even had a chance to look at to make sure it’s being done right! (Are you also thinking that teachers don’t get paid enough?) Or perhaps it’s from having to figure out what to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner again, when all you desperately want to do is go to a restaurant and be served for a change!

Maybe it’s due to the worry of job security or the constant requests from those at home (“No, I can’t interrupt my meeting to play a game with you right now!”) that makes you work longer hours to feel like you have accomplished more. It could also be because you are constantly on video calls both during the day for work and later in the evening for socializing.

Day after day, your days seem to get longer and you feel that as nice as it is to have the weekend off, you still feel tired on Mondays! You probably felt that way before the quarantine anyway! Having said that, it still feels different, doesn’t it?

If I were a gambler, I would bet on all those reasons being the culprits to the constant feeling of exhaustion. Boy would a vacation be good right about now!

Besides the obvious worry that we all have about the current crisis at hand, what is adding to this feeling and more importantly, what can be done about it?

Although having easy access to colleagues and clients through video conferencing has helped many of us continue our meetings without skipping a beat, it comes at a cost. You may have heard the term “Zoom Fatigue” and be wondering is there such a thing? Regardless of the video conferencing platform you may be currently using, constantly being on video can be draining in ways we probably never imagined. Continually staring at the screen means the brain is being bombarded with information overload, especially when we are in grid view or the “Hollywood Squares” view as it is popularly known. Our brains are focusing on what individuals are saying as well as all the nonverbal cues, not to mention the backgrounds that allow us into the homes of individuals that we currently work with (Why do they all look cleaner than mine?). Blurred videos and time lags in conversation only add to this mix. This is why after a day of constant video calls, we feel exhausted and then of course, we still have to connect with family and friends via video in the evening!

What can we do about it?

Here are some tips that can be helpful:

  1. When booking meetings, decide if a video call is necessary or if there is an alternative that will allow the same end result. Can it be done over a call? This will allow you to move around while listening as opposed to sitting in the same spot endlessly. (“You’ve got to move it, move it, move it!” as the song goes!) Perhaps you can work on a live document allowing you to add comments on the side.
  2. Avoid taking back to back video calls or allow for 5-10 minute intervals in-between to allow for stretch breaks (or maybe you can grab some caffeine that you are in dire need of).
  3. Consider turning off the video for portions of the call or have a rule that only the active speaker should leave theirs on.
  4. Turn off your self-view so that you are not staring at yourself and are focused on the speaker. When we see ourselves, we tend to worry about how we are coming across (I’m sure I combed my hair this morning) and this can distract us from focusing on the speaker.
  5. Close all other browsers when on a call and take written notes on what is being said. Looking away from the screen allows us to take a break and internalize what is being said, especially when we write it down as opposed to typing the notes.
  6. Prioritize your video calls. Do you need to join every time you get an invitation to a virtual teambuilder or social video call? Take time out for yourself. It’s okay to say no once in a while! Instead, spend some quality time with loved ones at home or go and sit in your backyard and listen to your favourite playlist!

Seeing our colleagues, friends and family members on video helps us to stay connected especially when we can see that smile, friendly face or even show what we cooked for dinner that evening. Having said that, to avoid feeling fatigue day after day, consider some of the above tips. Your brain will thank you!