We already knew what University of California Irvine researchers have proven.
“Email can up the worry load, and taking a break from it can reduce stress.”
Many studies have shown how firmly attached we have become to our electronic existence. But now UCI researchers have shown examples of the electronic stress with results on what happens when workers step away from email on the job.
Their results show, “being cut off from work email significantly reduces stress and improves concentration. A vacation from email, and perhaps all of the other electronics, could be a health issue.”
According to this study by UCI researchers, and the U.S. Army, stress was relieved when the workers were temporarily taken off of email.
“Heart rate monitors were attached to computer users in a suburban office, while software sensors detected how often they switched windows. People who read email changed screens twice as often and were in a steady ‘high alert’ state with more constant heart rates. Those removed from email for five days experienced more natural, variable heart rates.”
“We found that when you remove email from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress.” said UCI Informatics Professor Gloria Mark. She co-authored, “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons,” with UCI assistant project scientist Stephen Voida and Army senior research scientist Armand Cardello.
“The study was funded by the Army and the National Science Foundation. The participants were civilian employees using computers at the Army’s Natick Soldiers Systems Center outside of Boston. Those without email reported feeling that they were better able to do their jobs and stay on task with fewer stressful interruptions.”
Further research supported this. Mark said “People with email switched windows on an average of 37 times per hour. Those without email changed screens half as often, about 18 times an hour.” She suggested, “These findings could be used to improve productivity by controlling email login times, and batching messages to lower the stress effect of email.”
“Interacting in person instead of by email also proved to be less stressful. It was easy to just walk over and talk to a fellow worker. However, some workers did report feeling a bit isolated without email. Although they found they could stay current talking with other workers. Mark said studies show people with steady high alert heart rates have more cortisol, a hormone linked to stress and stress on the job has been linked to a variety of health problems.”
Great Ways to Get Away. If you are considering a few breaks from your electronic connections, take whatever time is available and make it count. A good book and a day at the beach, or time tucked away in a cozy spot at home will work wonders. Lunch in the park with your dog, or camping for the weekend with friends will smooth out the stress bumps too.
Story Credit: http://today.uci.edu/news/2012/05/nr_email_120503.php
Image Credit: http://www.smellieopticians.co.uk/services/vdu-users.aspx