Thursday, May 20, 2021

Zoom Fatigue for Writers Validated

by Susan U. Neal

Adverse Effects of Zoom 
A recent study confirmed that Zoom fatigue is real. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, or other video calls are taxing on the human mind. Last year via Zoom I led a monthly Word-Weaver Christian Writers Group meeting. After the two-hour meetings I felt utterly wiped out. My eyes felt like they were bulging, and I couldn’t concentrate on any major work projects for the rest of the day. I was experiencing Zoom fatigue. Can you relate?

We have transitioned from physical to digital interactions due to pandemic. These video conferencing platforms have provided excellent value, but at a cost to our bodies and minds. 

During the video conferencing we stare into a computer screen, which is unnatural and causes us to be on high-alert. This elevated alert state disrupts the biological rhythm of the body. During video meetings people feel the need to exaggerate their nonverbal communications through nodding, thumbs up, clapping, etc. Being more conscious of nonverbal cues adds to the brain’s cognitive load. This overload causes fatigue.

The study found that participants on the screen can feel mirror anxiety—a psychological phenomenon where seeing oneself in a mirror heightens self-awareness. For some, this may create internal stress. Staring at our ourselves on the screen causing us to think—should we smile how do we look, should we stare at the camera so people watching think we are looking at them or should we stare at the person on the screen. All of this is confusing to the mind! In addition, social judgement gets blended into the mix—what are others thinking about me or what I say.

Types of Zoom Fatigue

Being watched by digital faces while speaking, causes physiological stimulation and anxiety, which contributes to the brain’s overload. Managing this new communication environment leads to stress and burnout. No wonder we can’t think clearly after being in this high-alert state for hours. There are five types of fatigue associated with video calls: 
  • Overall tiredness
  • Social isolation desire (wanting to be alone after a call)
  • Emotional overwhelm or feel used up
  • Visual symptoms such as eye stress 
  • Deficient drive or lacks motivation to start new activities
Have you experienced any of these symptoms after being on a video call? Researchers created a Zoom Exhaustion and Fatigue Scale (ZEF scale) to evaluate the effects of video calls. The study found:
  • Zoom fatigue increases with more frequent and longer meetings
  • Fatigue increases when there is a shorter time between video calls
  • Women experienced more fatigue than men which was associated with mirror anxiety 
  • Less fatigue for extraverts 
  • More fatigue for introverts and the elderly

Video conferencing is a major part of our work life now. But you can do something to decrease the adverse effects. Follow these tips to lessen the consequences of video conference meetings by:
  • Limiting the number of hours on video calls per day
  • Scheduling larger blocks of time between video meetings 
  • Scheduling the video calls late in the work day
  • Switching off self-view (researchers recommend you do this)
  • Making sure you have a least one day a week with no video calls
  • Turning the video on for the first 5–10 minutes of the meeting and then turn the video off for the rest of the time
  • Designating meetings, video on or video off
  • Switching off your video during portions of the meeting where you are not talking
  • Shortening video meetings to 20 minutes instead of 30 or 45 minutes instead of 60
In addition to these solutions, research has proven that “forest bathing” (spending time in nature while paying attention to the senses) improves a person’s overall well-being. While you walk in the woods, listen to the birds chirp, feel the wind against your skin, smell the flowers, and feel the texture of a leaf. Spending time in nature restores the body through effortless attention—simply walking in the woods. God gave us nature to help regulate our emotions by calming our soul. God made the woods for us to enjoy, and it restores us physically and psychologically, which is absolutely amazing! 

Hundreds of research studies have proven the benefits of forest bathing and found it improves:
  • Immune system
  • Mood disorders
  • Overall health
  • Well-being
  • Emotions
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Prosocial helping behaviors
  • Prefrontal cortex of the brain
  • Mental relaxation and decreases stress and anxiety
  • Functioning of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems
Forest bathing reduces mental health symptoms and in particular—anxiety. So when you experience brain fog after Zooming, take a break by going outside to walk. You could also perform your work on your front or back porch. While you do, feel the breeze and listen to the birds. I believe time in nature restores the brain and reverses the effects of technology. So try to spend at least 15 minutes a day in nature. 

Video conferencing has provided an incredibly useful service which allowed us to stay connected with family, friends, school, and work during the pandemic. Unfortunately, we can feel the adverse effects of this technology. However, we can minimize the biological costs through limiting our exposure to video conferencing and getting out in nature to reverse the fatigue caused by it.


Susan U. Neal, RN, MBA, MHS: Susan’s mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ. She has her RN and MBA degrees, as well as a master’s in health science. She is a CERTIFIED HEALTH AND WELLNESS COACHwith the American Association of Christian Counselors. She published five books, the Selah award winner 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATESCHRISTIAN STUDY GUIDE FOR 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATESHEALTHY LIVING JOURNALSCRIPTURE YOGAa #1 Amazon best-selling yoga book, and YOGA FOR BEGINNERS which ranked #3. She published two sets of Christian Yoga Card Decks and two Christian Yoga DVDs that are available at CHRISTINAYOGA.COM. Her digital product HOW TO PREVENT, IMPROVE, AND REVERSE ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA is a great resource. To learn more about Susan visit her website SUSANUNEAL.COMYou can also connect with Susan on FACEBOOKTWITTER, and INSTAGRAM.


  1. Very nice blog, Thanks for sharing great article.
    You are providing wonderful information, it is very useful to us.
    Keep posting like this informative articles.
    Thank you.

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    1. Thanks so much. I'm a science nerd, so when I see a study with valid results that applies to our lives, I write an article to inform others. Thanks for your encouraging comments.
      Blessings, Susan Neal

  2. Extremely helpful blog that many of us I am sure can relate to - the stress, anxiety, etc. Then add hearing aids to some of us who must wear them and there is additional strain in trying to hear everything. Your blog helps so much in knowing many experience these health conditions - not just a few including me.