Whether you use Zoom, Google Meet, or Webex to teach online, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the newly coined term Zoom fatigue. While it’s true that teachers are used to juggling zillions of things all day, every day, caring for the needs of their students, teachers are reporting a new kind of tired. So why exactly do video calls make us feel so weary?
Not surprisingly, the cause is a combination of factors, most of which boil down to the fact that video calls require more mental processing than face-to-face interactions. Basically, our brains have to work harder to attend to tasks at hand and stay focused. Even though we’re not even physically active on Zoom, we’re getting a mighty mental workout.
To help you out, here are 9 tips to help you (and your students) beat Zoom fatigue.
1. Check your position
Correctly positioning your screen helps. You want to avoid glare. Make sure you’re not sitting in front of a window with sunshine glaring on your screen. Arrange lighting behind your computer, shining on you, not on your screen. Try to distance yourself about 25 inches from the screen and angle it such that you are looking slightly down at the screen.
2. Adjust your view
Instead of ‘gallery view’, choose ‘speaker view.’ That way, you can focus mostly on the person who is speaking without getting distracted by your Brady Bunch gallery of wiggling, busy students. In addition, hide your ‘self view.’ For some odd reason, it’s basic human nature to want to look at ourselves. This is particularly true for kids, who have a fascination with their own face and all the tricks it can play.
3. Use the mute button
It’s really hard to focus on a speaker when wrappers are crackling, fingers are tapping, and phones are ringing in the background. Use the mute button generously and often to keep the focus where it belongs—on learning.
4. Limit background distraction
Teachers, especially elementary teachers, can hardly resist colorful visual aids and busy displays of work, but do yourself a favor. Opt for a plain background and ask your students to do the same. The fewer interesting things to look at in the background, the more focus everyone can put on the speaker and the topic at hand.
5. Take stretch breaks
Nothing leads to Zoom fatigue faster than freezing your body in a static posture for an extended period of time. It’s important to get the blood flowing, and frequently. Here are three refreshing stretches to do when you’ve been hunched over the screen for too long.
- Shrug your shoulders up and down a few times to loosen the muscles in your shoulders and neck. Rotate your shoulders forward, then backward. Rotate them in unison or alternate shoulders in a bicycling motion.
- Interlace your fingers behind your head and stretch your elbows backward. Lift your gaze slightly and reach your chest upward. Take deep breaths.
- Reach your arm out in front of you and flex your hand at the wrist, as if you’re gesturing “stop”. Pull the fingers of that hand back toward your face and hold for a few seconds. Rotate your arm 180 degrees so your fingers are now facing down and your palm is still facing forward and again, pull your fingers back and hold. Repeat on the other arm.
6. Care for your eyes
Prevent eye strain by practicing optometrists’ “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Another eye-saving tip is- blink! On average, we blink about 15 times per minute. But when we stare at our screens, our blink rate gets cut roughly in half. Blinking is critical to eye health. It moisturizes them and supplies nutrients. If you find your eyes are irritated, it’s probably because you’re not blinking enough.
7. Get up and move
It’s essential to get up out of your chair, away from the computer screen, and move your body. Allow frequent breaks for kids to stand up and wiggle around. Try a quick brain break. Have a 60-second dance party. Take a lap around the house. It doesn’t take much to raise your heart rate, get your blood flowing, and recharge your battery.
8. Go outside
Nothing fights fatigue like fresh air. Go outside and look up at the sky. Look out at the horizon, as far as you can. Stand tall and breathe deeply. Watch leaves rustle in the wind. Do a few stretches or take a quick walk.
9. Limit multi-tasking
Teachers are masters at multi-tasking. So it’s understandable that when you are online it’s tempting to sneak a peek at your email, check the weather, and pull up resources on the spot. But to avoid Zoom fatigue, do your best to put 100% of your energy into your lesson and your students. You’ll not only feel calmer and more focused, but you’ll also do a better job.
Got any great tips for fighting Zoom fatigue? Come share on our WeAreTeachers Helpline group on Facebook.
And to add more fun to your online school day, check out these Zoom Games for Kids.