Like many people operating remotely, a lot of my work has moved to screens, with back-to-back video calls. I now fully understand the newly coined expression ‘digital fatigue’, or what it is known as by many people: ‘Zoom fatigue’. Being on a video chat requires more energy than face-to-face interaction, and seeing yourself on screen all day can be draining, and create worries about your appearance. However, there are some simple cures to restore your energy and beat digital fatigue…
What is digital fatigue?
In general terms, digital fatigue is the term used to describe the mental exhaustion felt from spending too long looking at electronic screens, be it your phone, laptop, or computer. With the sharp rise in employees working from home over the last few years, digital fatigue has grown to be more associated with endless hours huddled away in a home office on back-to-back virtual video meetings, leading to the coinage of the newer term ‘Zoom fatigue’.
While this continuous exhaustion might feel unavoidable with a schedule full of never-ending video meetings, there are some simple steps you can take to set boundaries, protect your physical and mental wellbeing and overcome digital fatigue once and for all…
8 cures for digital fatigue
1. Set boundaries ahead of video calls
Before your call is scheduled to begin, set some specific boundaries to conserve your energy. For example, if you’re feeling fatigued, email ahead to inform people that your camera will be off for the call. If you have back-to-back calls all day, every day, try adopting this method with alternate calls to revive yourself.
2. Factor in breaks between calls
If you are glued to a desk in your job, it’s crucial to schedule in regular breaks for movement or breathing exercises. This will benefit both your physical and mental wellbeing.
Similarly, it’s also important to remember that you’re a human being, not a robot! As humans, we need regular snack and toilet breaks to function at our best. If you’re struggling to find time for breaks between back to back calls, it might be time to chat with your team and adjust your schedule.
3. Check in with everyone before you talk business
Author Brené Brown suggests that call participants say one word to describe how they feel at the outset of a work meeting. It’s a great way to stay connected with your emotional needs, and that of others, before getting caught up in the world of business. We’re all human first, employees second, after all.
4. Take a close look at what’s causing your fatigue
Is your tiredness actually digital fatigue? It’s important to remember that fatigue can also be caused by illness, so it’s important to get yourself checked out by a medical professional if your symptoms prevail.
Alternatively, fatigue can be lifestyle-related. Substance abuse, no exercise, poor sleep or overworking can all cause you to feel overwhelmingly tired and run-down. Be sure to address and rule these out to ensure you can function at your best.
5 quick tips to build an energy-boosting lifestyle
- Exercise – it almost guarantees better rest.
- Sleep for seven to eight hours a night – not too much!
- Eat energy-boosting food.
- Restrict alcohol.
- Drink plenty of water
5. Make your goals manageable
Setting goals can be a great way to boost your motivation. However, it can be tempting to get caught up in your ambition and create huge, unrealistic goals for yourself, which creates more pressure than motivation. Avoid setting unrealistic goals and taking on too much for extended periods, as this can lead to burnout.
6. Remember: you don’t have to be perfect
It’s so true that we are often our own worst critic. If you’re constantly getting down on yourself about your performance at work, take a step back and remind yourself that you’re doing your best and that’s all you can do. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect – no one is perfect! Having such high expectations is a sure-fire way to cause anxiety.
7. Avoid wasting precious energy with distractions
Lots of us are guilty of getting distracted by social media scrolling or online browsing. While it’s important to unwind and spend time doing things you enjoy, these have a time and a place. You are also wasting energy which could be used for more productive tasks.
If you find yourself getting frequently distracted when you should be using your energy on your work, goals and passions, try setting time limits on your phone apps, so you can only access them during your scheduled breaks.
8. Lighten your workload to reduce digital fatigue
One of the main causes of digital fatigue is overwork. There are only so many hours in the day, and you’re only one person – it’s important to remember that we all have our limits. If you’re struggling with your workload, try chatting to your team to see if some of the tasks can be redistributed.