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How to Handle the Stress of Endless Zoom Calls

Posted on 2020-11-16 14:36:04




In less than a year the world of work has changed dramatically. Whereas before most of our encounters with coworkers and bosses was face-to-face, now much of it is done remotely. The most popular Internet program that enables video calling is Zoom. The amount of video time that people are doing through Zoom has spawned a new term: Zoom Fatigue. Zoom Fatigue is a real phenomenon, in which people feel exhausted and perhaps a bit irritable after having meetings virtually. 

Some of the symptoms of Zoom Fatigue include:

- Poor sleep quality

- Irritability

- "Always On" Attitude

- Too much alcohol

- Lousy Diet


Poor sleep quality 

You may find you are sleeping less soundly than you had been before you began proxy meetings through Zoom. the problem with remote meetings is that the brain is processing a lot more information than during in-person meetings. When we stare at a screen, our brain is unconsciously trying to turn a flat, animated figure into a stream of meaningful communications. That includes body language, facial expressions, vocal intonations and more. Our brain is literally working overtime to make sense of less than a quarter of the information we regularly receive when we are physically present in a meeting.

And if we have video conferences at night -- common in working internationally -- then we have the glare of the blue light from the computer screen to compound sleep problems. The brain interprets blue light as daytime. So we're giving our brains false information about when to be active.

If you really must have video conferences at night, try to schedule them as early in the evening as possible so you can ease your brain into a less active state. The best time to have video conferences is in the afternoon: the mornings are best used for creativity or cerebral activities.


If you tend to be a happy-go-lucky personality and then gradually find yourself becoming grouchy, stress is getting to you. If you are living with others, they'll be the first to take the brunt of your expression of fatigue. 

Something people tend to underestimate is the amount of energy it takes to be gleeful. When deadlines, distractions, bad sleep, and more erode your mood, it's a sign that you're just not able to maintain the level of productivity you expect of yourself. Irritability not just signals that you need a break, but that you need to move.

The human body was made to MOVE! It is only in the last 150 years that people began sitting in chairs with backs. Only royalty had backs to their chairs; everyone else sat on uncomfortable benches or on their haunches. That doesn't mean you have to be a jogger or a marathon runner. It doesn't even mean you have to go to a gym to work out. However, it does mean you have to get up from the computer every 30- to 45-minutes. Take a 10- to 15-minute break.

Whatever you do, though, don't just go to somewhere else in your home and sit down. Instead, MOVE! Do some housework for the interval. Stand at the kitchen counter and eat a snack instead of sitting at a table. Do some calisthenics like you used to do in high school, or take a short walk outside. Dance to music. 

Return your body to its natural state frequently throughout the day. Your mood will lighten.

Always On

When you are always working, without breaks of any kind, your stress levels remain high. Clear signs that your stress level is locked-in include:

- You leave the smart phone on while you sleep, in your bedroom, with the notifications of communication apps turned on

-You work weekends as though they were weekdays 

- You haven't taken a day off in two weeks 

- You end your day feeling you haven't accomplished anything of value

Probably, though, the most obvious indicator that you are always on is that you ignore your family and friends in favor of work. If you have children, you may be sidelining them to get in all those video conferences and meet all those deadlines.

People who figure out they need a break from the tyranny of the digital age is that they turn off the notifications on their tablet devices and smart phones. Instead, they build habits for when to check their social media channels and emails. 

Also, research has shown that if we leave our phones on our bedstands while we sleep at night, we actually do not sleep as deeply as a proper rest requires. Put the phone in airplane mode and move it to another room. If you use the phone as an alarm clock, don't: buy a real alarm clock. They still exist and can be bought rather cheaply.

Another helpful habit is to turn off your mobile phone after dinner. Perhaps have another phone reserved for talking with family and close friends. This may be necessary if you want to stay in touch with elderly relatives. 

And, of course, try to leave your laptop computer at home when you go on vacation. Otherwise, the temptation is too great to check and answer those emails and do that work you feel you've neglected. 

Too much alcohol

Before Lockdown, many of us liked to drink a beer or a glass of wine at the end of the work day. If you live in cities, you may have hit the bar near the office with coworkers to talk about the day, your colleagues, your bosses. It was also a great time to "reset" and blow off some steam before heading home. The interval helped you "feel more human" and to relax for the inevitable excitement and challenges family life can bring.

Now, with bars closed in many countries, there's no one with whom to decompress at the end of the day. While Zoom "Happy hours" are fun for the first couple encounters, they become, well, two-dimensional. The temptation, then, is instead of sticking with your customary one or two beers, or one or two glasses of wine, you take a third or more. You deserve it, you convince yourself.

After all, you're by yourself, or you're working all hours, or you're working in a lousy environment, any of which may be true. Just note, though, that ease of access to alcohol is a slippery slope that can lead to greater depths of self-pity. Remember, alcohol is a depressant. 

If you must take a drink before bedtime because you feel it relaxes you, keep it down eo a single glass. While doctors have found that a single serving of wine or beer can actually enhance your sleep, more than that means a lot of work for your body as it processes the alcohol.Most importantly, compare how you felt before you began Zoom Calling at all hours of the day and night with how you feel during the new digital normal. Make a Top Ten list of the symptoms you feel you're suffering. Then, gradually, methodically, work your way down the list to revert each of those attributes into characteristics that will return you your natural state of delight and enjoyment for Life!