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Constantly Checking Emails Linked to Stress

Monday, huh? Yes, as we venture into another work week, let’s keep this in mind – obsessively checking work emails and smartphones will only bring up the level of stress.

The study done by University of Irvine, California together with US Army researchers discovered that it is vital to take a break from work emails to lower stress and improve one’s focus.

For the purpose of the research, 13 participants were attached with heart rate monitors as they engage in work while using the computer in an office-like environment. They were monitored based on their heart rate variability whereby a more varied heart rate means lower stress while a more constant heart rate indicates higher stress. Software sensors were also installed to see how often they switched between windows on their computer.

It was found that on average, the participants changed their screens 37 times an hour. And when they were provided with access to checking emails, they were registered as being on “high alert” with more constant heart rates.

However, this changed when the participants were not given any access to their emails for five days. Their heart rates were more varied and they only changed their screens an average of 18 times per hour.

“We found that when you remove emails from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress,” said researcher, Gloria Mark, an informatics professor at UC Irvine.

While it is best to take a break and perhaps, get in touch with friends and family, it was also discovered that stress levels were likely to increase the more someone checked their smartphones and other gadgets for new messages.

The action of one obsessively checking their phone and thinking they have new messages even though there were none was described as “phantom alerts”.

In the study carried out by British psychologist, Richard Balding, it was reported that once an individual starts using a smartphone, they would feel a pressure to check and respond to messages in lieu of their new “virtual social life”.

The psychologist warned that “organisations will not flourish if their employees are stressed, irrespective of the source of stress, so it is in their interest to encourage their employees to switch their phones off, cut the number of work emails sent out of hours and reduce people’s temptation to check their devices.”

Source: The Huffington Post

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