Email holiday could reduce stress

According to a new study, being cut off from being able to send or receive emails has been shown to significantly reduce stress levels and increase productivity.

Researchers at the University of California and members of the US army recruited office workers to participate in their study. Heart rate monitors were attached to workers in what was regarded as a typical office setting. Software was also installed on their computers to establish their activity and corresponding heart rate.

Half of the workers were permitted access to their emails while the other group were told they were not able to read emails for the duration of the 5 day experiment.

Researchers reported that individuals who were allowed to read emails switched screens twice as much as those who were not able to access their emails, an average of 37 times per hour compared to 18 respectfully.

Reading emails was associated with heart rates being in a ‘constant state of alert’; this is associated with high stress levels and an inability to relax. Additionally, the constant switching of screens broke trails of thought and caused subsequent memory problems . Conversely, those who did not read emails showed more natural variable heart rates. In addition, it was reported that workers who were cut off from their emails were significantly more productive than their stressed, obsessive email checkers.

The researchers concluded that taking a break from emails, forcing interpersonal interaction within the work place can have a positive impact on stress levels but also increase day to day efficiency and decision making which can in turn also have a positive impact on mental and emotional wellbeing.

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