The world is still struggling through the pandemic. If you work from home, you may be involved in more Zoom calls than you would like. Zoom fatigue is a problem many workers experience. Still, if you are a migraineur, you may be a bit more susceptible to problems using the platform.What is Zoom fatigue, and what causes it? And what can you do to maintain your health if you suffer from migraines?
Zoom fatigue is a condition stemming from too much time spent on video conferencing without relief. It isn’t natural to watch yourself on a screen along with multiple other people that may or may not be watching you.
Include those times when kids, pets, or spouses break into your meeting unintentionally (except for the cat, which is always intentional). Add in technology challenges and that always “on” feeling, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
Psychology Today brings up another stressor — social exhaustion. You aren't just on Zoom for work. You may be there to interact with friends, observe religious time, or engage with others besides fellow workers.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of Zoom fatigue include:
- Sore eyes
- Lack of focus
- Inability to get a chance to speak
- General Zoom exhaustion
For sore eyes, use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Don't stare at the screen all day without a few breaks. Improve your focus by creating a firm meeting schedule with an agenda. If you never get a chance to speak, generate smaller meetings with fewer people.
As far as Zoom exhaustion, use patience. There is hope that things will get back to a new normal soon.
Tips for Migraineurs
Adapt your migraine coping mechanisms and practices to your home office and Zoom activities.
- Stick to a routine. A common trigger for migraines is the stress from disruptions to your day.
- Take regular breaks. As we said above, look away from the screen occasionally. Also, try to get up and move around.
- Use direct chat for specific discussions. It’s like having a quiet side conversation in a physical meeting. Zoom doesn’t really allow more than one person to speak at once.
- Select a comfortable Zoom view. The platform provides several options for streaming meetings:
- Speaker view highlights a single speaker, usually the one who is talking. However, it makes the picture jump around during active discussions. You can use the pin video speaker to stick to one person.
- Gallery view lets you look at everyone all at once. The screen jumps less but can be confusing if you can’t tell who is talking.
- Minimized view shrinks everything to a thumbnail. You can even hide the video of other users.
- Use good screen habits. Keep your monitor at eye level and use an anti-glare filter or screen cover. Adjust the brightness and refresh rate to optimize viewing comfort, and don’t sit too close. Two feet is the recommended distance to keep from your monitor.
- Take advantage of Zoom features. Zoom and other video platforms may offer a dark mode that is easier on your eyes.
- Manage your triggers. Don’t become dehydrated or too hungry. Keep fluids and snacks handy, especially when you expect the meeting to go long. Use natural lighting as much as possible. If someone has a bright light behind them, ask them if they can move it or use a different lighting source.
Try darkening your own room to see if it relieves some of the eye strain.
Mute the notifications on your other devices. You don’t need things chirping while you are in a meeting.
Try using your phone for some meetings or set your feed to audio-only. Take handwritten notes to give yourself a break from the screen and your keyboard. It helps you focus on listening.
- Set your device on a flat surface if using a phone instead of a monitor.
- Limit sudden movements. Many cameras are unable to track them, and they can be distracting.
- Avoid animated backgrounds. Aside from being unprofessional, they can be a migraine trigger, too.
- Mute your sound unless you are speaking. That way, nobody hears your dog barking or other noises.
- Eliminate unnecessary video meetings. Try to find other ways to communicate, like using phone calls.
- Add a buffer between meetings. Give yourself time to relax, get up, and have some “me time” before the next video conference.
Your healthcare provider is an excellent resource for helping you mitigate migraines. Speak with your doctor, especially if you are experiencing more migraine attacks than usual.
Build a migraine rescue kit. Place anything that provides relief in one place so you can find it quickly and take it with you when you leave the house. Fill it with over-the-counter medications, cool packs, or other items you find to provide relief.
If a migraine begins during a meeting, excuse yourself. You don’t need others watching you try to cope with the pain, and you can’t take care of yourself if you are trying to interact with others.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating — limit your screen time whenever possible. Use any trick you know to avoid straining your eyes and help you relax your neck and shoulders.
Find some low-stress, screen-free activities to do, including ways to perform some of your work. Maybe you can't eliminate the screen, but you might be able to change your location by using a laptop or phone in a different room or setting.
Finally, get outdoors. Sun and air do wonders for your well-being. You feel freer and less cooped up when you can get outside. Take a walk and get away from your desk for a bit.
Advocate for yourself and prioritize your health. You are the only one who knows how you feel. Also, it’s more difficult for others to determine if you are unwell while meeting remotely.
Zoom fatigue is a real issue. If you suffer from migraines, too many video meetings can exacerbate the problem.
Use these tips to reduce your life's stress caused by Zooming and related work activities that can cause your migraines to become more frequent or severe.
As always, talk to your doctor about anything that concerns you. The Migraine Relief Center is happy to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us.