COVID-19 has completely changed the way we interact with others.

For those of us with white collar jobs, instead of chats in the kitchenette and meetings in the conference room, all of workplace interactions are taking place over video calls on Zoom, Skype or similar.

Our churches and Bible studies are live streamed or video calls as well - with all the strangeness that comes along with not meeting in person amplified by the loss or alteration of practices like the Lord’s Supper and congregational singing.

And our social lives have moved from cafes and pubs onto computer and phone screens – we chat, share our lives and play using technology.

It’s no wonder that many people have started reporting Zoom fatigue!

But with probably many months remaining until we can leave our video lives behind for good, how can we stay focused and happy to keep logging in?

Here are five tips!

1. Take time away from screens
Many of us spent too much time each day looking at screens before this all began, but now it’s even more important to put down our phones and step away from our computers. We need to refresh and relax without screens so that we can cope with the fact that our social and congregational lives take place using screens, when those times used to be a welcome respite from tech. Take time each day to intentionally be off your screen – reading, walking outside, or doing a creative hobby – and you’ll be more refreshed and ready when it’s time to catch up with others.

Zoom

Zoomed out? It may be time to get away from the screen for a period. PICTURE: Gabriel Benois/Unsplash

2. Supplement screen time with other social interaction
Video calls can be awkward – there’s no denying it! Internet can be patchy, people talk over each other, and conversation is sometimes unfairly dominated by those with the clearest connection. But video calls are no longer the only way we can interact! If it’s safe for you and your family, make the most of the government’s loosening restrictions by going for a walk with a friend, having someone over for dinner, or meeting in a park. Or, if that’s not a good idea for you, there’s always a phone call! We are far more accustomed to this way of communicating and it may feel more natural for you. Maybe you could follow up a Zoom meeting by calling a colleague for a quick chat, or head out for a walk with friends after live streaming church, to help counteract any fatigue you may be feeling.

3. Turn off your ‘self view’
Often when we are on video calls, we spend a whole lot of time staring at our own faces and not actually concentrating on others. That can leave us feeling like all our interactions are superficial. Turn off your self view, so you can’t see what your webcam is showing, and you’ll find yourself concentrating more on who you’re speaking with – which is how you actually interact in real life!

4. Say no if you need to
It’s perfectly acceptable to tell a friend you’re all ‘Zoomed out’ for the weekend if you just don’t have energy for another call! Declining or cancelling plans happens all the time in usual circumstances, and, even when our calendars are emptier, it’s still important to have down time and time alone. So say no if you need to, and reserve your energy for what matters most.

5. Remember this isn’t forever 
God willing, we will only need to persist with this way of life for a little longer. So as we can, perhaps some of overcoming Zoom fatigue is simply ‘sucking it up’, persisting, and praying for a quick resolution to the virus!

This will not last forever, but while it does, let’s try (as much as we can!) to thank God for the technology that has allowed us to stay relatively connected throughout the COVID-19 crisis.