Email Emotions: New Study Finds the Checking Your Email After Work Hours Can Be Detrimental to Your Health and Relationships

We’ve all been there– in the hours before a major project is due, or an account is closed, checking our email anywhere, and at any time, becomes a necessity. Here’s why that is detrimental to your physical, mental, and even relationship health.

William Becker, Ph.D., a professor of management at Virginia Tech, released a study last month titled ‘Killing me softly,’ detailing the stress of what he calls ‘always-on’ culture.  Later this month, he is set to present his findings alongside his co-authors at the annual Academy of Management meeting in Chicago. Although this paper is a recent development in the burgeoning field of workplace health, the trend of mental and physical stress and marital displeasure as they relate to work itself is far from a new phenomenon.

Becker found that the constant barrage of work-related communications lead to a decrease in marital satisfaction, as the spouse of the stressed-out employee becomes more frustrated with every hour spent answering work emails or arranging meetings.

But what are some of the other impacts that ‘always-on’ culture can have on you and your relationship? They vary– from lost sleep to decreased resistance to illness, checking your email outside of work can be devastating to your mental and physical health.

Losing Sleep Over Emails

It’s no secret that a stressful email can keep you lying awake in bed, and scientists have proven that the blue light can disrupt your normal circadian rhythm. If you’re one of the 50% of Americans that check your emails in bed, try waiting until you’re up and at em the next morning to check your emails. Less lying in bed, worrying about your emails means more time asleep– or at least less time spent stressing.

Burnt Out

If you check your phone too often, it can add to the already-present stress at work, causing you to experience a phenomenon called burnout. Burning out can lead to health problems like increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and eating disorders, all of which have long-lasting, unintended causes on your health.

How to Stop

Looking to stop checking your email incessantly? Talk to your employer about instituting a reasonable email policy, like the bills introduced in the Philippines, Italy, and France. If that doesn’t work, try checking it at marked points during the day– in the morning, before lunch, and just before you leave. Setting guidelines for yourself is essential for keeping your burnout in check!

Have questions about the study, burnout, or anything else? Let us know by dropping a comment below, and we’ll get back to you!


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