More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably taken part in your share of Zoom calls. In fact, if you’re interviewing for jobs or working for an employer that uses Zoom intensively, you may be spending hours on end in Zoom meetings each day. Even a limited time communicating on Zoom can be exhausting, so if you have to hop on video calls regularly, you likely have a significant case of Zoom fatigue by now.
You may not be able to eliminate Zoom fatigue until the pandemic’s over. But in the meantime, there are things you can do to cope with it.
Hide your video from yourself
Seeing your own face on the screen alongside everyone you’re talking to can contribute to Zoom fatigue. You may be distracted by your face, which you obviously wouldn’t see during a typical in-person conversation. You might also find yourself engaging in some self-criticism, like worrying that the shirt you picked clashes with your skin tone. That can add to the stress of a Zoom call.
To prevent this, hide your own video from yourself. Join or start a Zoom call, select your video, and click the three dots that open the menu. Then check Hide Self View. Other people on the call will continue to see videos of you, but you’ll no longer see your face.
Choose a standard Zoom background
If you’re self-conscious about anything in the background when you’re on calls, that might be making Zoom meetings a less pleasant experience. Running around to straighten things up before each call or carefully positioning your chair so the other participants can’t see the lopsided picture frame behind you could stress you out before a call even begins.
In these cases, using a virtual background can allow you to stop focusing on your surroundings and bring your attention back to the call. To turn this on, sign into the Zoom web portal, choose Settings, and then choose Meeting. Check the box under Virtual background, and select an image.
Ask for a minute to respond
You may be able to space out a bit on Zoom calls if someone else is talking for a while. But in situations where you have to respond, like when you’re being interviewed or giving a presentation, that isn’t possible.
If you’re feeling fatigued, don’t try to power through and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, ask for a minute to collect your thoughts. Most people will be understanding of this request because at this point, just about everyone has experienced Zoom fatigue and knows how hard it can be to deal with.
Take a minute to think about your answer. Try keeping a notepad and pen near your computer so you can jot down a few of the main ideas you want to convey. Then use your notes to guide you as you jump back into the conversation.
Take short breaks
One of the best antidotes to Zoom fatigue is spending time away from Zoom. Try to build some five-minute breaks into your day so that you aren’t always on a call or staring at your screen. For example, when a call ends, you might shut your laptop, get up from your desk, and do some stretches. Then make some coffee or get a drink of water. You could also play music or listen to a podcast for a few minutes if that helps you decompress.
Use the phone instead if you have the option
You may be required to use Zoom when an employer invites you to interview for a job, or if your boss is leading a meeting. But when you’re collaborating with your peers on a project, you might have more control over the meeting format. When you have a say in how the meeting is run, ask your colleagues if you can have some audio-only meetings or touch base over the phone or by email instead.
For example, if you’re creating a presentation about your hotel’s quarterly revenue results, you and your coworkers might discuss the requirements for the assignment on an audio conference call on Monday and work on a spreadsheet independently on Tuesday, handling questions that come up through email or additional phone calls. Then, you could all join in a Zoom video call on Wednesday to review your progress and brainstorm new ways to visualize the data. With this approach, you have one video call for three days of work, rather than video calls every day.