Ignore emails for good heart health
Most of us find it difficult to go more than a few minutes without checking our email inboxes.
However, a new study has suggested that ignoring messages altogether can reduce stress by having a positive effect on the heart.
Researchers, who attached heart rate monitors to office workers, found they remained in a state of ‘high alert’ throughout the day if they had constant access to email.
But those who insisted they had their manager’s permission to not check their messages for up to five days at a time had much healthier heart rates.
Now, researchers who carried out the study, at the University of California Irvine, are asking employers to consider the implementation of email ‘holidays’ to preserve workers’ health, the Daily Mail reported.
According to some estimates, every day, more than 200 billion e-mails are sent across the Internet.
To assess the effects, scientists recruited 13 men and women who used computers in the offices, ranging from chemical engineers to psychologists.
At the same time, software measuring how often they switched from what they were working on to their email inbox was added to their computers to measure.
The findings, presented at a recent computing conference in Austin, Texas, showed those who stayed logged on to email had ‘high alert’ heart rates.
Moreover, the rise of the smartphones makes us even more inclined to always be connected.
This is where the heart remains at a steady, relatively fast beat because of the continuous underlying stress.
In stress-free conditions, the heart rate is more variable, decreasing as the body becomes more relaxed.
A constantly raised heart beat is known to lead to increased levels of a potentially damaging stress hormone, called cortisol.
Besides this, the study also found limiting email access might boost workers’ concentration levels.
Professor Gloria Mark, who led the study, said she was surprised by the results, since not having access to email could lead to a loss of control – a key factor in workplace stress.
‘Email vacations on the job may be a good idea. Participants loved being without email, especially if their manager said it was okay,” she said. “In general, they we much happier to interact in person.”
‘We were surprised by the results. We didn’t expect that people would become significantly less stressed,” she added.
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