Email app is bad for your health: study

By Lucy Clarke-Billings in London

Studies have found that continuously checking and reading emails due to a "push notification" feature produces tension and worry. Photo / iStock
Studies have found that continuously checking and reading emails due to a "push notification" feature produces tension and worry. Photo / iStock

The secret to happiness is to turn off your smartphone email app according to psychologists, who warn that constant updates have become a "toxic source of stress".

Technology that puts people at the continuous beck and call of their emails has created a culture where people feel they must be constantly available for work, according to research.

As a result, an "unwritten organisational etiquette" has become ingrained in the workplace and employees have developed habits which are bad for their emotional well-being.

Studies have found that continuously checking and reading emails due to a "push notification" feature, which alerts users to new messages even when they are not in their Mail app, produces tension and worry. Experts recommend that switching off the Mail app on your mobile device will alleviate anxiety.

Authors of a report from the London-based Future Work Centre which conducts psychological research on people's workplace experiences, said emails are a "double-edged sword" that provide a useful means of communication but can also be a source of stress.

Urging users to seize control of their email instead of being ruled by it, they suggest running the email application only when users intend using it.

The centre surveyed almost 2000 working people across a range of industries and occupations in the UK.

It found that two of the most stressful habits were leaving email on all day and checking mail early in the morning and late at night.

There was a strong relationship between use of the push feature and perceived pressure resulting from emails.

Email pressure was highest among younger people and steadily decreased with age, according to the findings presented at the annual meeting of the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology.

Those working in IT, marketing, public relations, the internet and media were most affected.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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