By Christine Schulz on Mon, May 18, 2020
The average person checks their phone once every 12 minutes. That’s at least 80 times a day! And when you’re not checking your phone, how often do you find yourself staring at a computer screen? The fact is, we live in a fast paced society where everything happens at lightning speed. When an email comes through, we feel the need to know exactly what it is and act immediately. It’s no wonder that we might begin to feel stressed and anxious when thinking about our email.
But why are we so obsessed with email?
Science tells us that when we feel satisfied, our brains release our "happy hormone" called dopamine. When we complete a task, however big or small it might be, this dopamine gives us a great sense of satisfaction and happiness. When we’re anxiously waiting for someone to reply to an email, our brains struggle as we wait for the answers we need to complete the task. And what happens when you finally receive that email and read what’s inside? Do you ever notice that sometimes your mood might change? You might begin to feel a little depressed knowing you didn’t get the job, or perhaps you’re excited you received a promotion.
Regardless of the content inside the email or who it comes from, it’s common to want to immediately pick up your phone the second it buzzes with a new message. Here are some ways you can reduce email anxiety to keep your mental health in check while still being productive.
Set Up Email Folders
Stop and think how many emails you receive are actually considered extremely important, both to your personal and work accounts. A flash sale from your favorite clothing company or a reminder of your upcoming health appointment can be distracting and create unwanted anxiety as we read through them. Try setting up a folder and direct as many of these types of emails as you can into it. If it’s not in your main inbox, you’re more likely to ignore it. You can then go back at the end of the day and read through them all at once.
Set Up a Time to Go Through Emails
This can be a difficult challenge, especially when you don’t want to miss something that might be important. But checking your email every time something new appears will not only distract you more frequently, but can cause your mood to fluctuate more often throughout the day. Aim to check your email as little as possible. If you can forgo checking your personal email during work, or your work email at home, you’re still reducing the chances of an email negatively impacting your mental health.
Don't Answer Right Away
Similar to how we become anxious waiting for emails, we’re equally as anxious to respond because we want to complete the task and check it off our list. However, if you’re frustrated when you write the email, you're only increasing your stress and anxiety levels. Although it goes against what our brain’s naturally want to do, it’s important to step away. You can learn to calm yourself with a quick 30 second breathing exercise or briefly focus on something positive instead. When you feel yourself calming down, go back and write the email with a clear mind.
Whatever you end up doing to limit your email anxiety, always remember to take notice of your feelings and emotions, and the types of emails that often trigger anxiety. When you’re aware of your emotions, you’ll know that something needs to be done before things become worse, and you can begin to work on ways to accomplish that task.