Have you ever wondered how using Zoom so much is impacting your health and well-being? Over 300 million people use online collaboration tools like Zoom every day, whether using it for work or for getting together with family and friends virtually. While it has provided so many new ways to connect and has allowed many people to continue to work, run their businesses, and support others, it can also lead to some unhealthy behaviors if you don't put intentional practices in place.
Personally, I am on Zoom a lot during this pandemic for my corporate job, private yoga therapy sessions, and family/friends’ gatherings and found that I was moving less, drinking less water, and feeling more overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day.
Have you felt the same effects? After seeing these same patterns in many of my colleagues and clients, I set out to find ways to overcome zoom fatigue and want to share these practical tips with you today.
What is Zoom Fatigue? Zoom Fatigue is mental fatigue. Your senses are in overload and your brain naturally interprets body language which in person, is key to and triggers the natural reward system and increases the hormone oxytocin which is the hormone involved in social bonding and reward. Studies show that lack of in person connection contributes to anxiety and depression which has increased by 30% since March 2020.
People are moving less and sitting on average three more hours a day since covid. Many have experienced an increase in weight gain which also contributes to anxiety and depression. What I can tell you is Zoom itself is not the culprit, it’s our physical, emotional and mental reaction to it that causes the fatigue.
What Causes Zoom Fatigue? Let’s take a step back and break down what happens to your body when on a zoom call. To make true “eye contact” you must look at the camera and the brain becomes confused because there is nothing there that you are talking too! To overcome this empty space and unnatural feeling, most of us gaze down at the screen at all the faces in the “gallery view”. The gaze downward for the duration of a call puts extreme strain on the eye and alerts the nervous system to be in “fight or flight” which in turn triggers stress hormones and increased cortisol in the body. Within two minutes you may feel the onset of headaches and may feel strain and drained before the meeting ends and stack on top you may have 3 to 4 more zoom meetings that same day.
Sound Familiar? I recently had a client say she feels so tired after sitting on zoom all day she feels like she ran a marathon! In addition to your eyes being overworked, your hearing is being challenged. Your brain gets taxed due to the audio delay and interpretation of the sound again, keeping you in fight or flight and your brain ends up overworking trying to make sense of both audio and visual.
The good news is there are ways to combat Zoom fatigue that benefit your health and wellness! Below are my 4 top practices to combat zoom fatigue that you can start to implement today.
Rest Your Eyes: Even while you are sitting at your desk, resting your eyes can help you feel refreshed and relaxed. Here are two simple ways to reduce eye fatigue and trigger the nervous system to move into rest & digest which reduces stress hormones.
-Rub your hands together creating heat, then cup your hands and place the palms of your hands over your eyes. Repeat as often as needed.
-Freeze sliced cucumbers and place them on your eyes to cool the eyes which provides relaxation and tension release in the forehead.
Move Your Body: Take 10-minute breaks every hour and step away from your office space to stretch or take a short walk around your neighborhood or home. This ensures the systems of the body get to move, function properly and begin to provide natural elimination of toxin build up within the body. It increases oxygen to the body and brain to encourage vital system function and increases focus and concentration.
Drink lots of H20: Water is essential to life and proper hydration is great for cleansing and brain health to stay focused and concentrated and reduce overall fatigue. If you get bored with plain water, get creative and infuse it with fresh fruits, herbs, or even a dash of cinnamon!
Breathe: Take a short breath break multiple times throughout the day. Sit back in your chair. Close your eyes and begin the following breath pattern: 1 Inhale. Breathe in slowly through your nose for 4 seconds. 2. Exhale through your nose for 6 seconds. 3. Repeat. Practice for a minimum of 5 rounds or one minute. Feel free to work your way up to 10 minutes or more.
I encourage you to have fun and explore different times of day, explore different fruits or herbs to add to your hydration and give love to your eyes through heat or cold! The rest of your body will appreciate the self-care and feel less tension and stress.
The reality is that the use of tools like Zoom are here to stay. The goal is to allow Zoom to be a source of connection and efficient way to get business done, without negative side effects. I invite you right now, to pause and take a moment to give yourself gratitude accepting the forced change we all have endured this past year and being able to adapt to this new way of life.
As the Editor of the wellness section, each month I look forward to connecting with you to share these simple practices and strategies so you can feel more joy and less tension in body/mind and spirit and personal and professional life.
With love and light,