What is behind the urgent need to answer a work email? – Health & Wellness

Answering an email without taking a second is not a harmless act: it hides psychological processes related to stress and anxiety that must be controlled.

You are on your day off, or on your vacation, but your phone notifications are active. You see that an email has arrived, you open it and feel the urgent need to answer a work email. Even if it does not correspond to you and although you know that they know that it does not correspond to you. Why do it then?

Surely you can think of many answers, and correct ones. However, it is important to analyze the context and substance of this urgency to answer, since the implications tend to extend beyond the individual field. In fact, society and technology have a lot to say in it.

For this reason, and to avoid the deterioration of mental health caused by this lack of disconnection from work, we are going to see what factors are included in it and how to overcome this urgency. Do not miss anything, because we begin.

The urgent need to answer a work email

Unfortunately, many people fall into work environments where productivity means putting in overtime, skipping breaks, and eating in front of the computer. Immediacy, commitment and, on many occasions, fear are required.

The stress and anxiety caused by these contexts lead, on many occasions, to answering a work email urgently, even when you are not in a hurry or you are on your day off. Let’s analyze this in depth.

The urgency bias of email

A study carried out in 2021 revealed that we tend to overestimate the urgency with which the person who writes to us wants an answer. That is to say, that when a worker receives a work email, he has the perception that a reply is needed more urgently than exists.

Behind this bias, which the experimenters called “email urgency bias,” is the increasing equating of productivity with always being connected, even outside of working hours. In addition, they also found a correlation between this bias, high stress levels, and reduced overall psychological well-being.

the endless days

It is never said enough that you have to disconnect when leaving work. However, if they insist on it, it is because it requires a conscious effort for many people subjected to work cultures that encourage endless hours. The continuous state of alert before work notifications is one of the consequences of this.

The pressure usually comes from positions with greater responsibility than that of the employee, generally from bosses and team managers. Even if there is no direct pressure from them, seeing them connected 24 hours a day, even on holidays and days off, is still a potential element of pressure on workers.

The sense of responsibility

There is also the anxiety of responding to a work email without direct pressure from superiors; there may be genuine interest in getting things done and a sense of responsibility to peers. Therefore, when you are on your day off and a colleague needs help, what does it cost to answer the email?

This, although it is born from empathy and camaraderie, continues to have an impact on the well-being of the person. Instead of being afraid of being fired or being harassed by the company, you are afraid that co-workers will suffer negative consequences for refusing a simple answer that does not even require turning on a computer.

Improvised teleworking

The Covid-19 pandemic promoted teleworking; forced companies to adapt quickly, with the consequent losses. The latter encouraged companies to apply the same criteria of a physical office to the computer in a quarantined home, giving rise to a multitude of complications. These complications, in turn, affected the mental health of the workers.

In a survey carried out by the WHO through the Carlos III University, it was found that 32 percent of the participants reported a significant deterioration in their mental health since the start of the pandemic. In this way, it was conceived that being connected to work could be required more lightly, since the employee did not leave home and “less work is done”.

Although teleworking is already on the way to being regulated in a more effective and healthy way, there is still a lot of work to be done for companies and people.

How to overcome that urge to answer a work email?

As you may have seen, sometimes leaving a work email unanswered requires an exercise in self-care that goes beyond mere resistance to responding. Therefore, here are some tips to balance your emotions and your actions:

Remember that the company has the obligation to respect your breaks: the Law on Data Protection and Guarantee of Digital Rights establishes that organizations must impose limits on their use of communication technologies to guarantee the right to rest of their workers. That is, they should not contact you when you are not working.

Separate your devices from work and your daily life: if you have the possibility, use a computer, a mobile or another device apart from your personal one. In this way, when your rest periods arrive, you can cut communication with the company effectively.

Control your use of digital media: the activation of the reward circuits provided by devices such as mobile phones or tablets make, to a greater or lesser extent, your attention constantly divert to those notifications that sound non-stop. Therefore, reducing your use of technology will help you feel less urgent when you receive a work email.

Go to a psychologist: if you feel urgent to answer a work email, it is very possible that you are also suffering from stress, anxiety, burnout syndrome or other ailments typical of excessive work. A psychology professional will provide you with the necessary resources to overcome it and will help you restructure your thoughts regarding these practices.

Digital empathy in companies

And finally, if you are responsible for a work team, here is a call for digital empathy: do not forget that there are thousands of ways to contribute to a healthy work environment. You can schedule the sending of emails, indicate that the response is not urgent and many more. And above all, remember that nobody performs 100 percent if they never disconnect.

The Mind is Wonderful.-

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