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the wellbeing balance

Remember that online, screen-based communication causes:

video fatigue

Face to face, your 'chimp' does most of the work in interpreting body language, facial expressions, vocal inflections, etc. and this uses up very little of your brain's energy supply.

Online, your 'chimp' is largely disabled and all of the intuitive elements of communication have to be carried out by your 'human', which is energy-hungry, resulting in Cognitive Overload.

 Find Out More tabout the 'chimp' and the 'human' in The Chimp Paradox,  

Prof Steve Peters, London: Vermilion, 2012


What you can do to reduce

video fatigue

  • Build in breaks between lessons or meetings and within them - use the 1 min micro breaks​.

  • Don’t delve straight into business, spend a little time catching up or checking wellbeing. It helps connect us, maintain trust and reduce fatigue and anxiety​.

  • Keep screen sessions as short as possible. If they need to be more than 20 minutes, break it up with a different kind of task or let people walk around the room for a minute.

  • Avoid Multitasking – studies show that it actually makes people less productive. Close any tabs, notifications or programmes that might distract you.

  • Reduce clutter. Ask people to sit somewhere with a very plain background or set up a simple virtual background – don’t allow people to be distracted by what’s on your mantlepiece!

  • Is a Teams meeting really necessary? Video meetings have become our default method of communication. Ask yourself if it is the best way, especially if you are talking to other members of staff. Sometimes a phone call would be better because people can just focus on the voice and maybe walk around while they’re talking.

Remember that online, screen-based communication causes

video anxiety

Looking at yourself - your eye is unconsciously drawn to your own on-screen image and most people are made anxious by what they see, especially if the image is mirrored, causing negative emotional consequences (see the Stanford research below).

Centre of attention - your 'chimp' interprets the screen as if everyone is staring at them all the time and this high intensity attention causes anxiety.


Space invaders - if the images of faces are too big on the screen, your 'chimp' interprets this as people being too close to you, invading your personal space, and it gets anxious

Digital lag - even with the best internet connection, there is a slight lag between the image of a person's mouth moving and the audio feed of their voice, and even if it is only milliseconds, it makes your 'chimp' uneasy and reduces its trust in them.

What you can do to reduce

video anxiety

  • Don't look at yourself - close or cover up the window that shows you to yourself.

  • Take screen breaks - give yourself a rest from those staring eyes by looking away from the screen, just listening to the audio feed, and make sure that everyone knows that they have permission to do this.

  • Shrink the faces - come out of full screen view and shrink the size of your viewing pane to keep the faces small - big enough to see detail but not big enough to worry your 'chimp'.

 Find Out More aabout video fatigue and video anxiety:

Remember to allow yourself re-charge time to build your


  • Take breaks between online sessions - a couple of minutes to get a drink or breath of fresh air and a proper lunch break, away from your computer

  • Draw boundaries between your work time and your home life or 'me time'

For more information and ideas on how to build resilience, have a look at this video:

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