Combating ‘Video Fatigue’: Staying Engaged During Virtual Classes and Meetings

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The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we learn and work, requiring us to rely on video calls through Canvas, BlueJeans, and Microsoft Teams to safely attend classes, meet, and connect. Although these tools have tremendous value, there are challenges. For many, learning the use of new technology, shifting to and from classes or meetings, being easily distracted, or constantly staring at your computer can cause stress and anxiety that experts have called “video fatigue.” Researchers define this as the tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication.

Video fatigue manifests in different ways. Some people worry about technical issues, including internet speed problems and lags, sound delays, and software crashes. Fears of talking over people during meetings, unintentionally being unmuted when having a private conversation, or realizing that you are muted when trying to talk adds another layer to the stress and exhaustion. For those working or learning from home, distractions and interference associated with dogs barking, kids crying, doors slamming, and people walking in and out of your camera view while you’re trying to focus in your class or meeting can really take a toll. 

So why are these video calls or learning tools so anxiety-provoking? According to psychological experts, seeing ourselves on a screen can cause us to feel like we are on center stage, something that is like performance anxiety. Tiffiny Hughes-Troutman, director of the Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE), offered another explanation related to social bonding: “Social interactions and being able to gaze at someone’s face reward us and keep us alert. The immediate visual cues needed to connect and bond are lost through the video format, and this is draining. In order to come across as paying attention, we have to look at several cameras or stare at one camera on top which is awkward.” 

Tameka Collins, CARE clinical case manager, offers hope. “We are all in this together, and everyone experiences occasional problems and challenges when videoconferencing, so give yourself permission to make mistakes. Understandably, it’s tiring to constantly sit in front of a camera for meetings, but there are great strategies to help. Try meeting less frequently, shortening the length of meetings if possible, and adding some interactive components to meetings like funny videos, interactive activities, or handouts — this can help break things up.”

Other suggestions on combating video fatigue from the CARE team and other experts include:

  • Behavioral health strategies: “Take walks, stretch or exercise between meetings, do phone calls instead of videoconferencing if possible, take breaks to close your eyes to relax, and increase water intake.” – C.D. Wright, clinical case manager
  • Be comfortable: “Dress in clothes that make you feel good, get snacks, listen to soft music.” – Ariyanna White, clinical case manager
  • “Avoid multitasking: Minimize or close your email program, chat logs, news websites, or entertainment websites so you can help keep focused on your video call.” – Adam Rodriguez, clinical case manager
  • Turn off the camera, if you can. If you are nervous seeing yourself on screen and if possible, turn off your camera completely and focus on voices instead.
  • Set up a time during the day to detox and get away from the digital world. Read a book, explore nature, or practice mindfulness and meditation. This will help you recharge when you must go back to video calls and conferences. 
  • If you are going to class virtually or work at home, find a quiet place in your house or apartment with no distractions to focus on the task at hand. 
  • Practice self-compassion. Mistakes will happen and we are all human, so do the best you can.

Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE)




  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:mcarter80
  • Created:09/01/2020
  • Modified By:mcarter80
  • Modified:09/01/2020