Is Checking Your Email Constantly Making You Sick?

woman checking email

Does your heart sink when you hear your cellphone's ominous "ping" while you're cooking dinner or trying to get the kids to bed?

For many, that innocent-sounding beep often signals yet another work email or text that requires immediate attention -- after office hours. If that sounds just a tad familiar and the very thought is giving you palpitations, take a deep breath. You're not alone. 

A study of 57,000 people uncovered that more than half worked beyond their regular hours. Thanks to smartphones and computer tablets, "work" is no longer contained to an office and the business day often starts earlier than 9 and ends later than 5.

While in some cases it's made life easier to have your desk virtually at your fingertips, it may also be making you sick. 


More from The Stir: 5 Ways to Get Work-Life Balance-Even When It Seems Impossible

Researchers discovered that those who found themselves working in the evenings and during weekends were more apt to complain of insomnia, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and stomach problems.

You know, just a few minor ailments.

But really, is it any wonder? The "always-on" culture, bolstered by technology, leaves little room for downtime.  

Public health expert and lead author of the study, Dr. Anna Arlinghaus, explained:

Our findings indicate that even a small amount of supplemental work beyond contractually agreed work hours can lead to health issues. The correlation is very strong.

This got me thinking, for moms who don't work outside the home, constant email reminders for the kids' extracurriculars and from their schools can be pretty draining too.

How many times have you put your feet up to read a book or watch TV after getting the kids to sleep -- finally! -- and suddenly you're on the receiving end of an email that goes a little something like this:

"Congratulations! Your child has been chosen to bring in two dozen cupcakes for the party that will follow the Halloween parade. And if you can help out in the classroom, that's great too! Remember to adhere to the school's allergy guidelines. A list of approved products will follow! Thanks!" 

Ugh. Or how about those texts telling you your son's soccer practice has been moved for the 12th time because of wet fields? Then, of course, you've got multiple emails from friends who are starting businesses from home, selling handbags, cosmetics, and festive ceramic dinnerware. And they'd each like to know if you can host a party at your house to help get these ventures off the ground. It's overwhelming, right? 

Sometimes, even if a friend is sharing good news or simply writing to say "hi" and catch up, you feel compelled to reply immediately lest you forget and her message gets lost in your crowded inbox. 

So how do you combat work, or just life in general, taking over your me-time? You can promise yourself that you won't check email or your phone after a certain time, but will you stick to it? If you've got a solution to this, let me know. I'm all ears! 

Do you have a work or personal email cut-off time? If so, what is it? 

Image © Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz/Blend Images/Corbis

Read More >