It has been about eight  months since we have entered the virtual world for our daily routines. Our new realm being Zoom itself. Whether it is a get-together or school, we stay in our bedrooms staring at our screens with only our heads displayed for hours each day. Growing up, we were told, “Get off the computer and go outside,” or “Don’t stare at your screen for too long, or you’ll go blind.” Nevertheless, we rebelled against this, sitting for hours, playing and watching on our devices. Now with this pandemic, we are being told, “We are moving online!” and getting sent right back to our rooms to stare at our screens. 

In March, being able to log onto Zoom every day without worrying about getting out of bed or getting dressed was fun. Though, as the months have gone by, typing your one paragraph assignment on a Google Doc can make you feel like quitting Zoom altogether. Seems like “Zoom fatigue” is real. 

What is Zoom fatigue? 

‘Zoom fatigue’ describes the tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication,” says Dr. Jena Lee, a psychiatrist, in an article for Psychiatric Times (Lee, 2020). 

When looking at the science behind this concept, mental fatigue is based on a core psychological idea of a gain and loss exchange that happens without us even knowing. In simpler terms, when you do anything, you unknowingly weigh out the gains and losses before making a decision. Ultimately, depending on whether you see the outcome as a gain or loss, messages in your brain activate an increase or decrease in energy and motivation. 

In terms of ‘Zoom fatigue,’ when we view it as a symbol of what we lost due to the pandemic, our brain is automatically sending signals to decrease our motivation and energy, hence fatigue. In short, viewing Zoom as a negative thing in our life only makes us tired of it. 

Here are 5 ways to fight the fatigue: 

Changing out of your homewear

Home is often a place to lounge around in our comfy clothing. Our weekends are often lazy days where our PJs are on our bodies from morning to night unless we go outside. With the ongoing pandemic, many of us are surrounded by the walls of our home. While our classmates on Zoom may not see our PJ bottoms and fuzzy slippers, getting dressed up for our school day gives our brain the impression we are sitting in our classrooms instead of our temporary study space at home. 

Eating healthy meals throughout the day 

As our days are spent indoors meshed together as one long week, it is essential to keep our bodies nourished with three healthy meals per day. Instead of being lazy in the food department by going for the easiest thing in your fridge, try and maintain nutritious meals to feed your motivation. 

An excellent way to ensure you are eating healthy without having to slave in the kitchen for hours is meal prepping. This is an efficient way to quickly run down to the fridge when you begin to feel tired around lunchtime and rush back to your Zoom call for your next class. We are always told to incorporate healthy meals to boost our energy, and to defeat Zoom-fatigue is not any different.

Organizing our days to prevent clutter 

Our days may seem all bunched up together. Deadlines are probably harder to remember. Having our days planned with a routine could help us meet those deadlines and create a more productive day. When it comes to this, organization is key, whether we school from home or not. Laying out deadlines on your calendar will help visualize the amount of time needed to meet those deadlines and prevent you from procrastinating. Since many tasks are now indoors, we may tend to blend everything up, causing confusion. Having a to-do list will help us navigate our tasks and deadlines. 

Keep your study space separate from your lounging area 

We have turned our lounging rooms into study spaces, merging the two. Now our homes are our schools, and our schools are our homes. The two meshed, do not necessarily help when you want to be motivated to study, not sleep! For this, divide your space into two, one for when you do schoolwork and one for your breaks. With this, our brains will automatically be conditioned to know a particular spot is to get down to work, and another is to sit back and relax. 

Our physical environment and posture affect the way we mentally function. If you can’t find a separate space in your house to study, try and change the place you sit in your room. Go from your bed to a table, or from sitting cross-legged to stretched out. All of these are physical indicators to help fight off Zoom-fatigue. 

Take your breaks outside

Being cooped up inside and breathing the same reused air every single day, can surely drive you insane, especially when you are packed in a house with your family. With both school and family under the same roof, you are bound to need that breath of fresh air. By taking breaks to go outside, we allow fresh air to strengthen our mental and physical health. 

As we near our very first pandemic winter, our time outside is limited, with Canada’s windy days and the sun setting early. This makes taking breaks outside a slightly challenging antidote to Zoom-fatigue, but not impossible. The cold should not be a scare tactic to put us back in our rooms. We should embrace it by taking short strolls or simply sitting on our porch to drink a cup of hot chocolate, viewing the white scenery winter brings us.

All in all, with our lives shifted to the cyber world, we try to find new ways to navigate through the challenges that this comes with. With scientists trying to find a cure for COVID, we can try to cure our lack of energy by looking fresh, eating healthy, organizing our days and spaces, and taking breaks. This pandemic may not disappear anytime soon, but with these alternatives to better our indoor hibernation, we can continue to fight off Zoom-fatigue.