Taking An Email Break Can Reduce Stress and Improve Concentration

Email, convenient though it may be, can lead to chronically high levels of stress and anxiety if checked too often. Fortunately, new research suggests that taking a few days off from email every now and then can help to return the body to a more natural level. The study was conducted jointly by the University of California at Irvine and researchers from the US Army.

Heart Rates Were Monitored

Volunteers in a suburban office setting were outfitted with heart rate monitors while they performed computer tasks. Simultaneously, computer software kept track of how often they switched windows. The participants who checked their email opened an average of twice as many windows and their hearts beat at a steady, higher rate.

When email was removed from a person's daily routine for five days, the overall level of stress dropped and the average heart rate lowered to a more variable level. Prior research has shown that steady "high alert" heart rates can cause a build-up of the stress hormone cortisol, which carries with it a host of health issues.

The experiment presented some unique challenges for the researchers, not the least of which was finding volunteers willing to go without email for a period. Those who chose to participate, however, said they loved the experience. The researchers anecdotally remarked that they were more pleasant people to interact with as well.

Finally, physical activities like standing and walking to a colleague's desk counter some of the other negative effects of office life, so going without email may also cause people to spend less time sitting and staring at their monitor.

Source: University of California, Irvine
Photo: Pixabay

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