Your Inbox is Totally Stressing You Out, Says UC Irvine Study

It's probably lurking somewhere on your computer screen right this moment, taunting, "Psssst, you haven't checked me in three whole minutes. Stop that very important thing you are working on and pay attention to me now!" 

Damn email. Can't function with it, definitely can't function without it. 

Too bad, because it's making you sick.

This is according to a new study by researchers from UC Irvine and the U.S. Army. They measured the stress effects of email usage by attaching heart rate monitors to workers in an office setting. The workers were divided into two groups--those who had normal access to their inboxes and those who were barred from email for five glorious days.  

What they found was that people who had email access switched windows 37 times per hour and had "high alert" heart rates, which can result in a higher production of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. Those who were on an inbox-cation switched screens only 18 times per hour and "experienced more natural, variable heart rates." They ended up feeling better able to do their jobs and stay on task. 

UCI reports that the downside was that those without email reported feeling somewhat isolated. "But they were able to garner critical information from colleagues who did have email," the press release states. By, you know, actually talking to people. 

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