Social isolation contributes to zoom fatigue

A person sitting on their bed with a computer on their lap.

Staying motivated and receiving an education is not easy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, 41% of people reported struggling with mental health issues related to the pandemic. 75% of 18 to 24-year-olds reported adverse mental health issues, revealing the vulnerability of college students. Since the world is going through a lot right now, it is crucial to prioritize our mental health.

As schools strive to limit the spread of the virus, online instruction has become the new norm. Many of the students attending classes on Zoom report experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” the tired, sluggish feeling one gets after a full day of using the video conferencing platform. Contributing factors to Zoom fatigue include online distractions, such as scrolling through social media or viewing yourself on camera. Processing information through a computer microphone or speaker, which requires increased attentiveness, could also be possible factors. Zoom calls are taxing in comparison to face-to-face interaction. Consider reducing Zoom fatigue by scheduling breaks between classes, hiding self- view, attending class at a desk rather than a bed and reducing distractions by turning off your phone and closing social media applications.

This semester has been unusual for in-person students at Lewis & Clark.

Necessary restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 make the typical social college experience much lonelier.

“Most of us crave the company of others,” Assistant Professor with Term of Psychology Amelia Wilcox said. “This is why it is so hard for people to follow the rules of social isolation. I think it is important to know that we can be distanced without isolating.”

The college experience during the pandemic does not have to be in total isolation. To create a social circle among other students at LC, Wilcox suggests taking a masked and socially distanced walk with a friend, video calling or any other way of connecting with students that are safe.

As a young adult, recognizing and understanding what you are going through is crucial.

“Having feelings of sadness and anxiety right now is normal,” Wilcox said. “Try to be kind to yourself and your friends for having normal reactions to the losses that are a real part of responding responsibly to the pandemic.”

There are many simple tools and strategies for emotionally supporting ourselves. Wilcox recommends sleeping well, exercising, eating healthy and connecting with loved ones even if it is virtually. LC’s Wellness Center offers plenty of online resources and services for on and off-campus students in Oregon, such as telehealth appointments. Zoom rooms are also available in the Wellness Center and can be reserved for virtual appointments with an off- campus counselor or therapist.

In November, most LC students will return home and quarantine for the winter. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said we need to prepare to “hunker down” in fear of a “twindemic” of COVID-19 and the flu. Preparation should include tending to the needs of your mental health and doing things that make you feel good.

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