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Dear Jackie 02: Fighting Zoom Fatigue

Dear Jackie 02: Fighting Zoom Fatigue

Wake up, crawl over to my computer, Zoom into class and repeat.

If you’re like me, this has what most of life has felt like since last March, when classes went online. It feels like a never-ending cycle of the same old virtual routine — and it can get exhausting.

So, what to do about Zoom fatigue?

I reached out to my friends at DePaul’s Office of Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) to ask if they had any tips to best combat this digital purgatory. They wrote back linking to an article from their office on fighting Zoom fatigue written by Natalie Altenburg, and I’ve pulled a few good suggestions for keeping sane in Zoom University:

Consider limiting when you turn on your camera. Zoom puts your face in front of you for the entire time you’re in class, and for me, that means a near constant distraction of being reminded that I woke up with an irreparable bed head or that last night’s sleeplessness turned into dark and noticeable circles under my eyes. A suggestion: turn your camera on only when you speak and resort to only using audio when you’re not. That way, you’re not concerned about yourself and can concentrate on the lesson. You can also turn self view off, which you can learn how to do here.

When you don’t have to be on the screen, limit your digital intake. This is hard, especially now when everything is shut down. I find myself constantly pulling out my phone between meetings and classes to occupy my time — checking my social media feed almost nonstop. In her article, Natalie from HPW writes that, especially with everything going on in the world, this can quickly turn into “doomscrolling,” in which distressing news and messages end up taking a toll on your mental health.

As a writer who wants to stay informed, I can’t ignore what’s happening, but I try to separate my news time from my downtime. I do that by trying my best to stay away from apps that lead me to doomscroll (like Twitter and Facebook) and replace them with activities like watching my favorite shows, listening to music or turning off my devices to work on some hands-on hobbies. Natalie also suggests going on walks, hosting Netflix watch parties with friends and making a list of self-care activities that you can resort to and take care of your personal health on days when you just need a break. At DePaul, the DePaul Activities Board (DAB) and other student orgs are also hosting many fun online social events and activities to provide a much needed escape when the world gets a bit too heavy.

Consider a Zoom “space”-lift. I wake up and go to the same corner of my room to Zoom into class every day, and it gets tiresome. Something that Natalie suggests that I’ve done is to switch things up every now and then. Move to a different part of the room, change up the background décor, throw a new comfy cushion on your chair, light a candle — simple things like these can add some variety to your Zoom zone and translate to a welcomed burst of energy.

 Invest in a pair of blue light-blocking glasses. Studies have shown that the blue light emitting from our devices can cause strain on our eyes, so you can use Zoom as an excuse to splurge on a new pair of cute glasses. A lot of traditional online optics stores are selling trendier versions of their frames — and for a more reasonable price — minus the prescription. If you want to go the extra mile, try changing the settings on your devices so that they have “night light” on, which allows you to set the devices to emit a more yellow tone at certain times which is easier on the eyes, or download a program that will adjust it automatically. You can also limit blue light emittance through your computer’s settings.

Get up and move. Although I find myself erring on scrolling through my feed in between meetings, I’ve been trying to get up and find ways to putz around my apartment instead. Getting up to move helps get my brain moving, and provides a break to just sitting and staring at my screens for hours. If I have certain chores or errands I have to take care of, I like to plan these in between meetings, so I have breaks to provide my days with a bit more ebb and flow. 

The vaccine has painted a promising silver lining for a return to normal, but it’s still going to be a while before we fully get back into the regular swing of things. Until then, I hope these tips break up the Zoom fatigue to get you through these next few months.

Best,

Jackie

Today’s topic was inspired by a wave of Zoom fatigue sweeping around our newsroom at 14 East. As always, if you have any suggestions of your own or if you disagree with my advice, you can write to me here! Feel free to also submit questions of your own to be answered in a future “Dear Jackie” column. All write-ins are completely anonymous. Read more about our “Dear Jackie” policies here.

Header illustration and graphics by Phoebe Nerem