PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Nothing beats the convenience of a virtual meeting.
It’s how most people have been keeping up with each other in this new normal.
But experts warn not logging off could be damaging to your health.
The new normal is sparking a new phenomenon, Zoom fatigue.
Stephanie Wijkstrum, the founder of the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh said, “I experience it myself and also our providers experience it because they are on Zoom eight hours a day.”
But how could something causing you to move less actually make you more tired?
Experts say it’s your brain’s way of saying “I see you, I hear you, but where are you?”
As users tap into the Zoom link, the brain is looking for the missing link.
It’s searching for the things that human interaction, human.
“Whenever we’re having an in-person conversation, we’re really tuning in, in ways you don’t think about,” said Wijkstrum. “Our heart rates sync when we’re in person, our respiration. All of this allows us to have a level of engagement that we can’t have when we’re looking at a screen.”
Another contributing factor is the screen itself.
The light interferes with the body’s Circadian Rhythm, or the body’s sleep-wake cycle, which helps the mind perceive night and day.
“It can even increase our stress responses and cortisol,” said Wijkstrum.
KDKA spoke to Dr. Janie Fritz who teaches communication at Duquesne University.
She laughed when we asked how many Zoom calls she’s been on as an educator – she stopped counting.
However, her communication background paired with her recently acquired Zoom skills has allowed her to compile a list of advice to avoid Zoom fatigue.
She encourages people to try zooming outside or changing locations.
She said even switching from gallery to speaker view can help calm the anxiety one may feel from seeing all of the tiny boxes on the screen.
Dr. Fritz also recommends turning off your camera so you don’t feel self-conscious looking at yourself.
She said ultimately, giving yourself a break from taking Zoom calls is the best way to find relief from screen fatigue.
She said all of these tips are important to consider, as Zoom and other video communication tools are going to be around for the foreseeable future.
“We have to give ourselves hope that it may not be forever but if it is going to last, let’s use it and make it work for us,” said Dr. Fritz.