Virtual hangouts taking it out of you? Zoom pub quizzes leaving you utterly ready for bed? You’re not the only one.
The coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown have led to a massive surge in the use of tools such as Zoom and Skype for remote socialisation.
Since we can no longer hang out with most of our friends and family in person, video chats have taken over and suddenly our calendars are filled wit virtual pup quizzes and Zoom parties.
Having a way to see and speak to our loved ones during this time is invaluable, but it’s not uncommon to feel mentally drained after these relatively quick remote meetups have finished.
Counselling Directory member Laura Vowels tells Metro.co.uk there are plenty of reasons why we could be left feeling unususally drained after a Zoom call.
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She said: ‘We’re used to seeing people in person, observing their non-verbal cues and feeling their presence.
‘For example, it is very different to see someone sad on a screen compared to feeling a person’s sadness when you sit next to them. As humans, we also crave touch and we find a lack of touch really difficult.
‘You may have a Zoom chat with friends or family members but you can’t hug and kiss them hello and goodbye, you can’t put your arm around their shoulders if they’re sad and you can’t whirl the grandchildren around pretending to be an airplane.
‘Natural in-person conversations also involve silence and merely being in the presence of another.
‘Needing to constantly think about something to say can be incredibly tiring.
‘There are also practical considerations such as poor connection, time lag and actually staring at a screen that can be both frustrating and draining.’
Laura adds that video calls with many people could contribute to this post-Zoom fatigue.
She said: ‘Normally if we’re in a party, people quite quickly form smaller groups in which they’re chatting. This may be 1:1 or a few people at the most.
‘In larger group hangouts, only one person can talk at a time and everyone else is looking at that one person. It is not possible for multiple people to talk simultaneously as you can only hear one person. If you want to say something, you will need to wait for your turn and even then, someone else might jump in before you get an opportunity to do so and no one even knew you had something to say.’
Dr. Daria J. Kuss, Associate Professor in Psychology and Associate Course Leader of MSc Cyberpsychology at Nottingham Trent University, says that the lack of physical cues and possible time lags could further add to our lethargy.
She said: ‘We need to focus more during Zoom calls as there are fewer physical cues that we can rely on in video chats in comparison to face to face conversations.
‘There are also delays in transmitting the video and voice, which creates the perception of us and our conversation partners as being less friendly or focused.’
Our increased screen time could also be to blame for extra tiredness.
‘During the pandemic, we spend large amounts of time in front of screens – working remotely, in video chat meetings with colleagues, online video social get-togethers with friends, online yoga classes, you name it – over time, this can drain our energy as we are missing out on face to face contact, more regular breaks, and clear boundaries between professional and personal life,’ says Daria.
How to combat Zoom fatigue
There’s a chance we may have to rely on Zoom to help us connect with loved ones for some time yet. If you want to fight the exhaustion that comes as a result, Laura recommends taking breaks, having smaller virtual gatherings and remembering that you can always say no to a call when you’re tred.
She says: ‘People could help fatigue by limiting the time they’re on Zoom at any given time and making sure to get up every once in a while.
‘Also doing some activity together can take the pressure away from having to talk constantly. For example, having a meal together when you can alternate between looking at the screen and your food.
‘Additionally, having less people in calls at a time instead of having a party with 20 people.
‘And just remembering that it’s ok to say no if you’re too exhausted or to suggest that you continue the conversation at another time.’
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