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Yes, Zoom fatigue is a real thing. Here’s what you can do about it.

June 09, 2021 | Behavioral Health Services


It is not your imagination. The exhaustion you feel after being on a video conference is a real phenomenon. This is called “Zoom fatigue” or “video conference fatigue”, and it can have very real effects on your health and well-being. This feeling is not limited to just Zoom, this also includes other platforms such as Google Duo, Webex, Skype, or other video conference tools.

“Increased stress, anxiety, and burnout are all symptoms of video conference fatigue,” said Michael Galluzzi, Director of Behavioral Health Services. “And since video conference meetings will likely outlast the pandemic, we need to begin taking steps to mitigate the effects it has on our lives.”

Why does video conference fatigue happen?

Simply put, video conference fatigue occurs because interacting over video requires more cognitive processing than interacting in person. It is harder to read people’s facial expressions through a computer screen and the nuances in a person’s voice are flattened out. This makes it harder to pick up on tone.

There is another reason video conference fatigue happens, which is the unpredictable nature of life at home. Unlike a meeting in a conference room or a happy hour with friends at a bar, you have to deal with what your rooms looks like, the dogs barking, or a spouse who is also trying to have a meeting in the room next door. There is a lot more you have to manage when you are on a video conference, which makes meetings that much more taxing.

How do I know if I have video conference fatigue?

The signs of video conference fatigue are similar to those of more general burnout or exhaustion:

  • Feeling tense or tired after a Zoom meeting;
  • Difficulty focusing;
  • Increased feelings of frustration with coworkers;
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships;
  • Physical symptoms, like muscle tension, fatigue, and insomnia.

What can I do about it?

You may not be able to avoid video conference meetings forever, but there are steps you can take to reduce the stress and fatigue.

  1. Turn off your camera. While this may not be possible for every video conference meeting, you should take advantage of it whenever possible. 
  2. Make the window smaller. Video conference platforms bring our faces much closer together than would happen in real life, and this can be very fatiguing for our brains. By making the Zoom window smaller, you are increasing the distance between you and the other person, which allows the brain to relax.
  3. Know what works best for you. Do you prefer having all of your video conference meetings back-to-back in a shorter period of time? Or do you prefer breaks in between, even if it means being in meetings throughout the entire day? When you know what is best for you, you can schedule your meetings to better accommodate it.
  4. Don’t forget about phone calls and emails. Just because we can do everything over video doesn’t mean we should. Phone calls and emails are a great way to give yourself a break from video conferences, while still interacting with others.

Penn Highlands Healthcare offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient behavioral and mental health services at locations throughout the region. To learn more, please visit www.phhealthcare.org/bhs.