By Leia Rubinstein
The new school year has just begun, but with classes on Zoom for this semester, many of us are feeling more drained by the end of the day than we did in the past. What is it about online-learning that is so exhausting?
The problem seems to stem from the brain struggling to process the non-verbal social cues via the computer that we unconsciously pick up in face-to-face conversations. Things like hand gestures, facial expressions, tone, pitch of voice, and the relative positions of the professor and our classmates, are difficult to pick up on over a screen. We seem to tire more quickly because our minds need to work extra hard to detect these non-verbal signals.
Thankfully, experts have suggested several useful tips to reduce fatigue and make the Zoom experience more enjoyable. By learning to adapt to this new classroom environment, despite being online, we can still have an effective semester.
Make the switch to speaker mode
As tempting as it is to see other faces on the screen, being on gallery view may be a leading cause of our “Zoom fatigue”. We are unintentionally overworking ourselves by trying to process each person and their background while also trying to listen to what the professor is saying. Scrambling to find who is speaking in a large class can lead to even more stress. Switching to speaker mode can allow our brains to relax by enabling us to focus on one person at a time.
Limit unnecessary distractions
Distractions such as checking texts and emails can create extra strain as we try to focus on multiple things at once. Although we often multitask, our brains actually are not made for it, and attempting to do so generally results in a lack of attention on either task. Once we are interrupted, it can be stressful to try and adjust back to what is happening in the class.
By silencing our phones and closing other computer tabs, we can allow our minds to more easily focus on the class, and conserve energy for the rest of the day.
Hide self view
Since many of us have taken online-learning as an opportunity to put minimal effort into the way we look, seeing ourselves on screen can be stressful. We are suddenly aware that everyone is watching us, directing our attention to our appearance and our behavior. It can be tiresome to feel the need to be “on” the whole class.
To alleviate some of that pressure, there is an option on Zoom to hide self view. Simply click on the three dots in the right corner of your video and click “Hide Self View”. While others can still see you, you will no longer see your face on the screen.
Take a break in between classes
We are used to walking from classroom to classroom to refresh ourselves in between classes. Experts claim that walking actually boosts creativity and reduces stress. Now that many of us are in the same room the whole day, it can be beneficial to get up in between classes to clear our minds. Simply getting a drink or a snack, or taking a walk around the block, can be a helpful break and give us the strength for the next class.
While we are all looking forward to resuming (or beginning!) our studies on campus, in the meantime, adopting some of these simple changes to our everyday routine can enhance our experiences with online-learning.
Have a good semester!