Cybersickness



Looking at my calendar still makes me exhausted.

The amount of back-to-back to back (to back) Zoom meetings I have hasn’t gone away – I think folks are realizing that meeting on Zoom or another virtual platform is a pretty efficient way to meet. Consider it: you don’t have travel time. You can join from anywhere. And if you designate a preset amount of time, generally speaking, you can start and end the meeting fairly concisely as folks don’t stick around to small talk or other things.

Those back-to-back (etc.) meetings are not just efficient – and exhausting – they can make you physically ill.

Ever feel a little woozy after a bunch of meetings, computer time, or doom scrolling? You might be experiencing cybersickness.

Much like motion sickness, cybersickness happens when your senses are sending information to your brain that doesn’t seem to match what your brain thinks your body is doing. Think about being on a boat – you might be walking, standing, sitting – and your body is like “Wait! I am moving!” The same idea happens when you scroll consistently, use several screens or attend meetings when someone else is scrolling, confusing your orientation. That Zoom exhaustion that leaves you feeling kind of gross? Real deal.

Cybersickness isn’t new: it has been often associated with virtual reality and augmented reality for years. It’s marked by nausea, vomiting, dizziness – again, the same feelings that come with motion sickness.

How do we deal with this? Zoom meetings, as mentioned earlier, aren’t going away anytime soon: and even if they lessen, they won’t disappear entirely. Lucky for us, there are a lot of things that we can do that also help with our self-care and general wellbeing.

Less Consistent Computer Time

Don’t laugh: you know we need less screen time. Maybe you’re thinking that this is impossible – but I need to work! You need more breaks away from a screen, period. If you’re feeling exhausted and woozy by the end of the day, take time away from all screens during your lunch break, bio breaks, and more. Don’t move from one screen to a smaller screen or a larger screen when you’re on break. All that will do is increase the likelihood of cybersickness.

Slow Your Scroll

Do you doom scroll? You know, the consistent scrolling of Twitter or Facebook, looking for the next thing that might explode? Or the next amazing thing? That scrolling could be causing some of your woozy feeling (and not just due to content!) Easy fix on this one: slow the scroll. Chances are you’re scanning those words, images, and articles, and if you’re starting to feel weird while scrolling, a simple slowdown will help you (and might get you to read more of the content!).

Focus on Stable Things

If you can’t spend less time on the screen, then take breaks and focus on unmoving objects. Take a moment to admire a plant, a photo, something on the wall – anything that is unmoving will ground you. The break itself will help you, too – fatigue is a real thing with scrolling and screen time. If you give your body and eyes a break, you’ll be able to be more effective with your work when you are working.

Keep Air Moving

This one makes sense if you’ve ever experienced motion sickness. Make sure the room you’re in is ventilated, has consistent airflow, and is free of strong odors. Since you’re overloading your senses with the scrolling and screen, adding another strong sense reaction will only make the woozy, dizzy feeling worse. This also applies to heavy and strong food – think of your senses as a fuel tank: they get full, and you don’t want things spilling out all over the place.

 


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