Dec 08, 2015

Impact of Email (1): Email Increases Stress and Affects Wellbeing

Impact of Email (1): Email Increases Stress and Affects Wellbeing

This is the first in a new series of posts about how email impacts your daily life.


#1: Email Increases Your Stress and Affects Your Wellbeing

It's a bright and sunny day and all is right with the world...until you open your mailbox and see 50 unread emails waiting for you. Almost immediately you feel dark clouds looming over your clear, blue skies. We've all been there. According to research, all it takes to send your stress levels soaring, is a simple scroll through an overflowing mailbox.

Stress was never designed to be a bad thing. It is simply a reaction to a disturbance in our physical or mental equilibrium that triggers the "fight-or-flight" response. However, while this surge of adrenal and cortisol hormones may have saved many a pre-historic hunter in his day, it spells disaster for today's desk-bound knowledge worker, by exposing him to a significant risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

And it isn't only the number of emails that you receive every day that are to blame. Almost every email that you receive and consume, has an emotional impact on your wellbeing. In the pre-email era, we may have experienced a maximum of 1 or 2 stressful situations on an average day – an argument with the boss, a tiff with the spouse or perhaps the bus making you late for work. But today, every email arrives loaded with the possibility of a digital confrontation or an expectation that you fear you cannot meet. It could be an email from a sick colleague requesting that you take on their workload too or a missive from the boss asking for a report pronto, or a message from a vendor informing you of further delay in supplying an already overdue product. Nobody, but nobody is equipped to handle such frequent stressors hurled at them all day long.

Does email cause you stress and affect your psychological and physical wellbeing? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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