Zoomache: zoom·ache | \zoohmm-āk weariness, fatigue, stress, and/or exhaustion from never-ending Zoom calls with family, friends, business colleagues causing a state of exhaustion or attitude of indifference or apathy brought on by overexposure to videoconferencing.
These days, thanks to Zoom, people are having happy hours with college friends, cooking Saturday dinner with formerly-distant relatives, taking morning walks with a friend in Paris, and talking about books with the neighborhood groups. With our days now bleeding into each other with a “Groundhog Day” —like fluidity, work is home and home is school and school is yoga class and yoga class is therapy and therapy is somebody’s birthday party and somebody’s birthday party is work.
In the midst of pandemic stress and social distancing, we could not possibly be more nourished with companionship. And yet we’re stressed out and exhausted?
Keep in mind that at this point our brains are associating our homes more than ever with work. Your home has become just overwhelmingly work now. That line between home and work is completely gone for many. It may be time to find a way to reestablish that boundary between the two by finding a different place in the home for each, separating work-induced fatigue with home-induced relaxation. More on the notion of Zoom fatigue from Zubin Damania, MD ⤵︎
Quoting from Gianpiero Petriglier, Associate Professor at Insead, within a recent BBC Article “The reason Zoom calls drain your energy”;
“Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. Most of our social roles happen in different places, but now the context has collapsed. Imagine if you go to a bar, and in the same bar you talk with your professors, meet your parents or date someone, isn’t it weird? That’s what we’re doing now… We are confined in our own space, in the context of a very anxiety-provoking crisis, and our only space for interaction is a computer window.”
And then there’s this from Shareen Pathak over at Digiday;
“Zoom isn’t a replacement for real-life interactions. Every verbal tic, every slight eyebrow raise, and every other non-verbal reaction signs are overblown when you’re all gazing into your screen, populated by multiple giant heads”
Finally, Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., writing for Psychology Today voiced her concerns about Zoom fatigue;
“Not only does Zoom zap our energy and our brains, but it also beats down our bodies. From a numb butt to an aching back to a dull, throbbing headache and eye strain, hours spent in one position at furniture never designed for long-term sitting can leave us feeling cranky, achy, and a lot worse about life than if we had a breakroom to roam over to visit, face-to-face chats and gossips with coworkers, and an evening commute during which we could decompress and shed our work identities as we morphed into our social and relational identities.”
How Do You Cure a Zoomache?
Take two aspirins and Zoom me in the morning? Perhaps not. While Zooming may be the “new norm” for a while, here’s a novel idea; What if we harkened back to the good-old-days of picking up the phone? Casting all those “stressors” aside, at least then you would be free to chat with folks “as you are” and with the bonus freedom to walk around, lay on the sofa, or perhaps wander outside for some fresh air. Sounds like “just what the doctor ordered”, doesn’t it?