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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Checking Email Less Lowers Stress

Checking Email Less Lowers Stress
Credit: Maridav/Shutterstock

If you want to relieve some of your daily anxiety, try checking your email less often, new research suggests.

Not checking your email every time a new message is delivered can help reduce psychological stress, according to a University of British Columbia (UBC) study.

"Our findings showed that people felt less stressed when they checked their email less often," Kostadin Kushlev, the study's lead author and a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at UBC, said in a statement.

For the study, researchers instructed participants to limit checking email to three times daily for a week. The following week,participants were allowed to check their email an unlimited number of times each day.

The two-week study involved 124 participants who worked in a range of industries, including health care, academia, finance, administration and information technology, as well as graduate and undergraduate students.

The study's authors found that that during the week of limited email use, participants experienced significantly lower daily stress than during the week of unlimited email use. [Workers to Bosses: Stop Emailing on Weekends ]

Turning a blind eye to the inbox for most of the day could be a difficult task, however.

"Most participants in our study found it quite difficult to check their email only a few times a day," Kushlev said. “This is what makes our obvious-in-hindsight findings so striking: People find it difficult to resist the temptation of checking email, and yet resisting this temptation reduces their stress."

In an effort to cut down on the stress levels of their employees, businesses should encourage employees to check their email in chunks, rather than constantly responding to messages, Kushlev said.

This is a strategy Kushlev is using himself, and it appears to be paying off.

"I feel better and less stressed," he said.

The study, published online in the Computers in Human Behavior journal, was co-authored by Elizabeth Dunn, a UBC associate professor.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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