From school to work to birthday parties – and just about everything in between – over the last year, many of us have become accustomed to logging on to Zoom in place of meeting in person. Our endless video calls have helped us maintain social connections while we’ve been more physically distanced than ever before. And from time to time, they’ve even brought us laughter, with countless “you’re on mute” reminders and unexpected appearances from pets, children, parents, and more.
However, as we pass the one-year mark of virtual activities, many of us have experienced a phenomenon known as “Zoom fatigue,” or the physical and mental exhaustion you might feel after a day of communicating over virtual platforms.
If the description sounds familiar, you’re not alone – even Malcolm X’s Chrishawn Young, Professor and Interim Associate Dean of Adult Education, and José Torrez, International and Undocumented Student Advisor, say they’ve experienced the virtual burnout. Based on their discussions with students and their own personal experiences, Chrishawn and José have put together their best tips for fighting the fatigue.
Tip #1: Offer patience to yourself and others
José Torrez remembers being on an emotional Zoom call with a student when, all of a sudden, he lost internet connection, and the call dropped. When he got back on, he was quick to offer his apologies for the inconvenience. But to José’s surprise, the student was actually relieved. The fact that an advisor’s router gave out helped the student understand that this sort of thing happens to everyone.
Advice: Even a year in, some mistakes, errors, and inconveniences are inevitable, especially those concerning technology. Try not to fret about a poor signal, and be patient when others encounter challenges, too. “You’re on mute” has become the new “hello.”
Tip #2: Get creative – both in and out of class
Similarly, Chrishawn Young was in the middle of leading a lecture when she realized her internet connection was slower than usual. In that moment, she was forced to get creative – she quickly made up an activity to keep her class engaged and learning while she restarted her router.
However, in Chrishawn’s opinion, creative problem-solving is just as important outside of the classroom (or Zoom room). This winter, when she noticed footprints in the snow on her deck, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that her daughter had bundled up to get her “steps in” on the patio. José added that shoveling turned out to be a creative way for his students to get exercise.
Advice: When your traditional plans are interrupted, take a breath and think outside of the box – you may be able to find a solution that you wouldn’t have considered previously.
Tip #3: Check-in with your loved ones
While Chrishawn’s deck was certainly showing signs of life, her car, which was parked out front, had remained untouched in the snow. She was comforted when her neighbors called to check-in and make sure she was doing okay.
Advice: Not everything needs to be a Zoom meeting. While we’re still maintaining a physical separation, a quick call, text, or letter to ask a friend how they’re doing or let them know you’re thinking about them can make a big difference.
Tip #4: Finally, and perhaps most importantly, check-in with yourself
The last year has challenged all of us. In fact, José recalls being extremely burnt out at the beginning of the pandemic, feeling like it was difficult to separate work from his personal life. He realized that he needed to turn his phone off at times and add personal blocks to his schedule in order to re-charge.
Advice: Make sure to regularly check-in with yourself and note how you’re feeling. Do you need to better separate your personal life from work and school? It’s important to advocate for yourself, and City Colleges is here to help. Email your advisor or connect with your college’s Wellness Center via Virtual Student Services.