6 Healthy Video Conferencing Habits to Avoid Zoom Fatigue

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New research suggests that watching self-video may be more exhausting for some than others. Factors such as “mirror anxiety” and lack of a sense of belonging to the group can aggravate “zoom fatigue” on the day and after.

Fatigue from video conferencing or virtual meetings is known as “Zoom fatigue”, video conferencing fatigue or virtual meeting fatigue. Zoom fatigue has been attributed to problems with digital video communication, including difficulty detecting body language or microexpressions, sound delays or interruptions, and loss of sense of place or context. More recent research has found that additional factors can make zoom fatigue worse. This research may point to how to find healthy adaptive habits for virtual meetings, especially as remote or hybrid working with video conferencing is here to stay.

Recent research has shown that seeing yourself on camera can be exhausting, especially for people who are unhappy with how they look on camera and are dissatisfied with how they look. Worry about how you appear to others has been called “mirror anxiety” and can contribute to more anxiety and exhaustion during and after video conferencing calls.

In to studyPosted in The Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers conducted a four-week field experiment with 103 employees and found that virtual meeting fatigue was higher for people who kept their cameras on than for those who turned them off during video calls. The study found that this virtual meeting fatigue not only affected same-day performance, but also next-day performance.

A second news to study Posted in Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networks found that people who were the most dissatisfied with facial appearance suffered from greater fatigue during virtual meetings. Women were more likely to experience this type of Zoom fatigue factor than men. This supports previous research that has shown that seeing yourself on self-video can worsen facial dissatisfaction and trigger body image issues, suggesting a downward spiral effect. The increase in self-view on video conferencing over the past few years has been one of the factors behind the recent increase in demand for cosmetic surgery and procedures.

We are constantly and actively shaped by our digital interactions and the increase in video conferencing and the more sedentary nature of remote working are likely impacting our bodies and brains, which are “neuroplastic.” We can take an active role in how we choose to conduct and interact with virtual meetings. We have the ability to adapt our behavior in light of this new research in a way that protects us and reduces zoom fatigue. These changes can help improve our videoconferencing conditions for ourselves and others, particularly if we are in leadership or management positions that can influence how videoconferences are conducted.

With that in mind, here are six good virtual meeting/video conferencing habits:

1. Keep your own camera viewport as small as possible and place the main visual focus on other participants or group members.

Putting other participants at the center of the video conference is helpful in attracting attention and reducing the possibility of mirror anxiety or dissatisfaction with appearance. Turning off the camera reduces this risk more completely, but sometimes there are meetings in which this is not possible.

2. Close other unnecessary windowsmultiple visually active browsers and/or monitors have been shown to be more distracting and cause “cognitive overload”.

Multimedia multitasking, a known consequence of browsing the Internet with multiple tabs and windows open, can reduce depth of attention and focus on an individual item. An effective way to solve this problem to stay focused on the meeting is to close or minimize windows and monitors and focus on a single screen during a call, if possible.

3. Convert video calls to phone calls when possible to give yourself a break. Many meetings are just as effective over the phone as they are over video. Another possibility suggested by some researchers is to use a digital avatar instead during the meeting, which would minimize dissatisfaction with one’s appearance. This feature is available on some media platforms and may over time become more acceptable and common for purposes such as business meetings. If it’s a new feature that people aren’t used to yet, it may be more entertaining at first, but will likely become more familiar and less new over time.

4. Take regularly scheduled breaksaway from the screento improve concentration and productivity.

If you feel more fatigued from video calls, take regular scheduled breaks. Even micro-breaks, which last less than two minutes, can be helpful. To research has long supported micro-breaks during the working day and also longer breaks of 10-15 minutes. Taking a brisk walk or stretching between virtual meetings can also be helpful.

Take proactive steps to block these short and long breaks into your work schedule. This step can improve your general well-being, including physical tension in the body. A to study examination of physical discomfort in people working at computers found that two-minute micro-breaks every 20 minutes reduced discomfort, especially in areas of the body like the spine and shoulders. Implementing short breaks can improve productivity and extend endurance in everything from people working on computers to surgeons in the operating room.

5. Practice daily mindfulness exercises or focused meditation for one minute breaks and 10 minutes daily.

Breaks away from a screen are particularly important for resting the body, eyes and mind. Now is a good time to implement a daily mindfulness practice and routine, which I have discussed creating in previous articles, including mindful walking and breathing or yoga for stress reduction.

6. Think about what you can do to improve the sense of belonging during a video call.

A recent to study of a group of 55 employees in 279 videoconference meetings found that the thing that protected people the most from videoconference fatigue — other than turning off the camera — was if people felt they had belonged to the group during the meeting.

This is perhaps the most surprising new discovery. A sense of belonging to the group during the call is the most protective factor in reducing zoom fatigue (other than having the camera turned off). This suggests that leaders and managers can help reduce Zoom fatigue for everyone by making sure attendees feel welcome and belong in the meeting.

If you’re wondering why you feel particularly exhausted after a virtual meeting, ask yourself: did you feel like you belonged in this group during the call? If the answer is no, think about what, if anything, could be done to improve this sense of belonging.

We continue to learn more about the impact of remote work and video conferencing, and this research continues to highlight how we can adapt and maintain healthy digital habits.

More information can be found here: 10 tips to reduce zoom fatigue.

Marlynn Wei, MD, PLLC Copyright © 2022.

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