Are you scared of your inbox?

Times Of India article dated Mar 28, 2016

Remember the time when you forgot to put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode and woke up to a stinker email by your boss? You had a mini heart attack and couldn’t even carry on with your daily routine after that. You ended up screaming at people on the road, not responding to your family and friends properly and even skipping your meals for rest of the day. Well, this is exactly what your inbox does to you.

According to researchers, work emails are one of the biggest stress-inducing factors for working professionals. And, when these emails continue to flood your inbox even after the working hours, you cannot help but suffer from anxiety disorders, heart problems and headaches, revealed a report by Daily Mail. This is perhaps the reason why employers’ federations and unions in France decided to put a ban on work emails post 6pm for employees covered under the agreement, back in 2014.

In India, particularly in metro cities, people spend most time on the move – commuting to and fro the workplace. They leave early in the morning and return late at night, with practically no time for themselves. On top of this, when they are asked to log in from home, they start to feel burdened and stressed out, resulting in burnout and poor performance at work. Dr Atul Verma, Clinical Psychologist, SCI International Hospital adds, “Stress can lead to anxiety disorders because you are constantly worried about receiving an email from your employer to work on something important. This way you can never relieve yourself from work.”

Dr Kashissh A Chhabriaa, Counselling Psychologist blames the unrealistic expectations of employers in this context. Employees are forced to take work home and be available 24×7, which severely affects their health. Sandhya Mathur, Founder & CEO, Inward Focus and Senior Faculty at Symbiosis Coaching supports the argument. “The recipient of the email feels pressured to respond immediately, thus propagating and encouraging this culture. It does not give him any time for relaxation and intrudes personal life.”

Expecting employees to work remotely and penalizing them for missing an email has encroached people’s private lives. This also indicates that employees have problems in compartmentalizing their work and personal space. They cannot leave work at office even if it’s not important. Dr Ajay Phadke, Founder & CEO, Type A Thought opines, “There is a notion of wanting to finish work as much as you can today, to reduce the load for tomorrow, though the load does not really reduce as each day repeats its pattern. This could lead to lack of mental peace, disruptions in relationships and inability to enjoy quality time or social time, which in turn also affects the quality of work.”

Thus, there is a need to change the mindset at the individual and organizational level about respecting personal time of professional. Physical creation is always preceded by mental creation. A shift in mindset would bring about noticeable change in the work culture. Apart from this, people need to manage their time effectively through organizing, prioritizing and scheduling the day. “Banning work emails after 6 pm won’t work, but scheduling your work by 6pm will take you a long way,” affirms Manoj Lekhi, Life and Business Coach.

Here are some suggestions by experts to keep work-related anxiety at bay: – You can start by scheduling your day and making a goal chart. Make sure you complete your work within this time frame so that you have rest of the day to yourself.

– Learn to prioritize at work; it also helps you to put your life in order.

– You can also consider leaving your office laptop at work and thereby, not bringing work home.

– Another tip is to remove your email account from your smartphone. This is help reduce stress and will improve your quality of life.

– Remind yourself often that you chose to become a husband/wife or parent. Thus, your family needs your time too.

– Don’t go out of your way to impress your boss as it can lead to constant anxiety and stress. Believe in your abilities and your boss will believe in you.

– Always remember to take out time for yourself too. Do whatever you like, pursue a passion, hobby and catch up with your friends. This will work as a stress buster.

– Don’t let anyone put you down. Try to self-assess your weaknesses, strengths and limitations and work accordingly on them.

– Take 15 to 20 minutes break after work when you are sure that there are no urgent needs and go off the internet. Use this time to just close your eyes and bring down the churning of your mind. Imagine a place you love to be at, like a beach or a garden or your room and let the imagination help you unwind. Breathing techniques can help you to relax and calm your mind.

– Reward yourself each time you stayed away from work after office hours by doing things you like the most.

– Just before you leave work, clear your desk and make a list for the next day, to mentally distance yourself from work.

– It’s also a good idea to work on areas that you can control and influence. Being anxious about areas in your life where you have minimal influence or control will only give rise to more anxiety, leaving you drained out and not able to perform in areas of your expertise too.

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