man stressed and rubbing head while looking at laptop screen

You get home from a long day at the office. Or you work from home, and call it a day.

Now what? Get dinner ready. Hustle a kid to practice. Meet up with friends. Do the laundry. Maybe even kick back and relax.

You’ve got a life outside of work, right? Then your phone buzzes. It’s an email from your boss or a client. And you feel compelled to respond.

So you swipe and type a quick message. Or you fire up your computer and squeeze in a few minutes of work. Sound familiar?

If you’re answering work emails after hours, it could be bad for your health.

In a recent study, researchers tracked the after-hours email habits of about 300 people. (1) The people who spent the most time on email after hours were more likely to be:

  • Stressed out
  • Unhappy
  • Emotionally exhausted
  • Have poor work-life balance
  • Experience health problems

The trouble with chronic stress

Ever feel like work (especially responding to emails at all hours) is a major source of stress in your life?

It comes with a heavy price when it comes to your health. Research shows that chronic stress can take a toll on your health and happiness in many ways, such as: (2)

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Weakened immune system
  • Digestive problems
  • Certain types of cancer
  • And other health problems

Are all those work emails stressing you out and keeping you up at night?

It has a name: Workplace Telepressure.

You might think you are being more productive by working extra hours at home. In fact, it can lessen how productive you are.

“The ‘always-on culture,” says lead researcher Dr. Liuba Belkin, “may prevent employees from fully disengaging from work, leading to chronic stress.”

Have workplace telepressure?

Talk to your supervisor. Set up an auto-responder to let people know you’ll reply later. Or just don’t respond after hours. Those emails will still be there in the morning.

Making a few adjustments to answering emails all the time might seem hard at first. But with a little practice you’ll lower your stress level, feel happier, and be healthier.

Source

  1. Belkin, L, et al. (2016). Exhausted, but unable to disconnect: After-hours email, work-family balance and identification. Academy of Management, 1:10353. From: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320790286_Exhausted_but_Unable_to_Disconnect_After-Hours_Email_Work-Family_Balance_and_Identification
  2. Harvard University. (2023). Stress. Harvard Health Publishing. From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/stress

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