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Study Break: Self Care

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Zoom Fatigue

Why Zoom Fatigue Happens 

Over the past year, we have had to work and live Zoom with minimal breaks in between. What was once a new idea soon became the main source of fatigue for people learning and working virtually. 

Zoom fatigue has been defined as the "tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication." In virtual meetings, we lack the non-verbal cues that would normally facilitate communication in real life. Additionally, being reduced to a little box on a screen can make us hyperaware of every sound and move you make. In combination with the extra effort needed to interpret the other side of the screen, Zoom meetings require us to process more information than our brains are used to doing. 

Nevertheless, online learning is the only alternative to continue our academic track while staying healthy and safe during a pandemic! 

1. Limit unnecessary screen time.

Although your class schedule can dictate when you are online, try to avoid using your phone or watching TV during breaks. Catching up on social media or your latest show can be a stress relief, but too much screentime can worsen your Zoom fatigue. Check out our "Overcoming Procrastination" page on this guide for apps to reduce screentime. 

2. Avoid multitasking

Since everything can now be accessed at the touch of your computer screen, it can be easy to fall into the trap of listening to a Zoom lecture, checking your email, responding to text messages, online shopping, and working on your next assignment all at once. However, switching between these tasks has been found to take away 40 percent of your productivityMultitasking does not work. Try your best to focus on the task at hand so that you do not fall behind! 

3. Set healthy boundaries.

Not everything has to be done over Zoom! Zoom has been the primary meeting platform for virtual gatherings. However, if possible, try to schedule meetings through other platforms, such as audio calls or email. Oftentimes, a phone call can get the job done in the same way that a Zoom video call would. 

4. Establish a virtual work space.

Libby Sander presented in her TedTalk (above) the value of finding a work space that matches with your productivity needs. Make sure that your working from home environment ensures a comfortably productive space to learn. If you are limited by space, check out this resource for tips and tricks on maximizing your home/work environment. 

5. Schedule specific times for breaks

To prevent overbooking your schedule with Zoom meetings, try to set designated times (e.g., 30- or 60-minute windows, or even a full day each week) as "no meeting" time blocks. Take advantage of these breaks by going on a walk, grabbing a snack, or partaking in your current hobby to limit screentime and avoid further strain on your eyes. If you need some ideas on how to schedule breaks, check out the 20-20-20 or the Pomodoro Technique

For more tips on combatting Zoom fatigue, check out these resources:

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