zoom fatigue


Zoom Fatigue – Why video calls are so exhausting

16 March 2021

For many people, working from home during COVID-19 has meant spending a lot of time on video calls or virtual meetings, in addition to socialising virtually when off the clock. Whether it’s a business meeting, online class, or a family or social gathering, we are all spending more time on video calls, which is physically and mentally draining. “Zoom Fatigue” is the phenomenon that describes the exhaustion we feel after too many video meetings.

While the condition is named after the Zoom app due to its popularity, it’s important to note that Zoom Fatigue applies to all video chat apps such as Google Meet, Skype, Facetime, Microsoft Teams or HouseParty, among others. If you consistently feel drained after Zoom meetings or feel like you do not want to attend as many virtual meetings, you may be experiencing Zoom Fatigue. 

Psychologists say several factors lead to Zoom Fatigue. Firstly, there are sound issues, glitches and screen freezes to contend with. The technological hiccups that happen so frequently during virtual meetings can all disrupt our ability to interpret messages and add to our unease. 

In addition, it takes more effort to have conversations through Zoom than it does in real life. Video calls require more mental processing than face-to-face interactions. We have to work harder to process non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice and body language. This additional focus is very energy intensive and could explain this feeling of fatigue.

Increased self-awareness is another reason. We get conscious of how we look and behave in front of the camera when we know everyone on the call is looking at us. We feel like we always need to be “on” and responsive. This can become exhausting and stressful over time.

Meanwhile, many of us are sharing our new workspaces. The needs and distractions of family members and even our pets are putting a further strain on our concentration during meetings.

The most common symptoms of Zoom Fatigue are:

  • Feelings of burnout
  • Anxiety
  • Eye strain
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increasing impatience and irritability
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Low productivity

The symptoms of video call fatigue can vary from person to person. Some people may only experience one or two of these symptoms, while others may experience most or all of them. 

There are steps you can take to try and minimize the impact of Zoom Fatigue and boost your mood and productivity.
While on a video call, we all know how tempting it is to pull up another window and check your emails or messaging apps. Close all other tabs on your desktop, and focus your attention solely on the meeting at hand until it’s over. 
Do you really need a Zoom meeting? Could you replace a video catch-up with a good old-fashioned phone call? Or would it be easier to send an email and share a file with detailed notes. 
Keep video meetings short and focused. Ideally, they should not run longer than an hour without a break. If it's your meeting, set up a clear agenda; if it's someone else's meeting, ask for a summary. 
Consider switching off your video, particularly if you are in listening mode or are being presented to. If you can’t turn off your camera, consider moving your screen off to the side, instead of straight ahead. This can help you concentrate better by focusing on listening rather than watching.
To avoid the stress of having to look at your own face all the time, turn on your camera, do a quick check that your lighting is okay, and then hide self-view. Note that this won’t hide you from being seen by all the other participants. 

Experts say spending time away from the screen is key to staying energised amid frequent video chats. Make sure you are scheduling in regular short breaks away from the computer, and between video calls.

Don’t just reach for the phone or check social media when you’re having some time out either. Get up, stretch, and if you can, try to get outside for some fresh air and a short walk. By getting your blood pumping, you will give yourself that boost of energy needed to take on your next Zoom call with gusto.


If you are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t forget to take the time to look after your health and wellbeing. Allianz Care is here to help: our mission is to keep you well, wherever you work in the world.