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Digital Exhaustion & What to do about it

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Wonder why your brain hurts and you feel mentally exhausted at the end of the day?

Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

It’s called Digital Exhaustion and it’s more than just being tired from video meetings on Zoom and Teams or Google Meet every day. It has to do with that, but also with cognitive overload. Or more precisely, how our brains deal with attention.

If your job entails spending a lot of time in front of a computer and your switching between this, your mobile and maybe a tablet too, this can impact your productivity through attention overload. Think about how you switch and move between apps, emails, video meetings, notifications and periods of multitasking and focused work. This is called temporal attention, it’s when we’re paying attention to things that are happening, such as emails and video meetings or phone calls. When we’re out and about, working out, hiking or walking and even moving around the house, that’s called spatial attention.

Have you ever had a moment where your brain kind of goes blank for a second? You can’t remember something for a second? That’s when your brain actually does a quick reset because it is momentarily overloaded and that’s known as an attentional blink. It’s kind of like when your Web browser slows down and you need to clear the cache to speed it back up.

When you couple all this attentional overload throughout the day along with zoom fatigue, you become mentally exhausted at the end of the day. Our brains are amazing computers, faster than anything humans have been able to create so far. But they can also get overloaded in the run of a day.

What to do about digital exhaustion

  • Be sure to take a walk outside, look around. This is spatial attention and helps calm your brain.
  • Take a short nap if you can, just 30 minutes is enough and can help reset your brain by giving it time to process and catch up.
  • Try other activities away from your computer and put down the smartphone
  • Read a print magazine or book, something to distract your brain

With many of us working from home, getting breaks from temporal attention demands is important. Taking a break will help you work smarter and better and feel less brain drained at the end of the day.

you might also enjoy this article on how to stop negative self-talk.


  • Alex Hurst is a writer for HUM@Nmedia covering Optimyz and Silver magazines in print and digital editions and is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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