A work-life balance is the stuff of legends: a full day’s work followed by dinner with friends, staying out of the office on the weekend and not replying to emails after hours, but spending time with your S.O instead. While that’s all most people’s idea of #lifegoals, chances are you’re guilty of checking your work emails well into the night. It is estimated that office workers spend thirty days a year checking their emails and 36 per cent of millennials check their work emails before bed. Sounds about right.
France recently introduced work-related laws where employees must turn off their work phones and ignore work emails once the day is done, and are not allowed to be pressured into after-hours work by their bosses, and such rules have prompted scientific studies about what checking emails after work can really do to your health.
Individuals that felt as though they needed to be available 24/7 - even when they technically didn’t – rated lower on a wellbeing scale than those that ignore work responsibilities after hours. Further, studies show the mere thought of having to be on call raised anxiety levels and activated a part of the brain responsible for emotions and fear. Of course, we don’t mean horror-house fear, rather a subconscious fight or flight response that’s triggered by your brain. It’s as simple as not wanting to lose your job, and feeling as though you might if you try to set some boundaries or tell that annoying colleague from HR to just go.away.
Now we’re not saying this feeling is OK because it’s definitely not, but it won’t cause you any long-term problems if it’s happening on occasion. However, if you’re always on-call and never mentally go off the clock, then we’ve got some bad news. Repeatedly exposing yourself to anxiety and heightened stress levels can negatively affect your ability to process memories, hinder your concentration and can lead to insomnia, as well as heart problems, headaches and even digestive issues. Yikes.
So, next time your notifications ping with a so-called urgent email, ignore it. Your body (and your brain) will thank you.
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