How often do you continue working after you’ve left the office? It’s a habit most of us struggle to deflect in our daily lives. Regardless of your job field, there always seems to be a nagging voice in our head telling us there’s one more thing we need to check on over and over again. If this sounds familiar, you should know you’re not the only one suffering. Unforunately, a new study from Virginia Tech has revealed that even something as small as just checking your email can have some seriously negative effects on not only your own mental health, but the health of your spouse or loved ones
Always on the Clock
It’s become more and more difficult to fully “clock out” of our jobs at the end of the day. Our phones make it all too easy to stay connected long after we’ve logged off at the office. According to a Virginia Tech study presented in August 2018 at a meeting of the Academy of Management, researchers observed over 100 employees, managers, and the significant others of employees to learn more about how the non-stop mindset takes its toll. William Becker, an associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech and co-author of the study, said the pressure resulted in higher levels of anxiety and conflict between spouses.
Liuba Y. Belkin, associate professor at Lehigh University and another author of the study, spoke with Newsweek and described the issue as an “insidious stressor.” Simply fighting the urge to check emails isn’t even enough to combat work-related anxiety — just thinking about the messages piling up in your inbox is all it takes to set off high levels of stress. What if you’re missing something important? What if your boss needs something done right now, even if “now” is way past normal working hours? Lack of confidence in job security can make finding time for relaxation feel like an impossible goal.
How to Unplug
Luckily, there is a solution, and it takes a little more than just “unplugging” or turning your devices off at night. Making an effort to “be in the moment” with your family is great, but managers also need to focus on helping their employees find a work/life balance. Bosses should check in with their teams (during work hours) and make sure they aren’t overloading them with pressure. In fact, they should be encouraging them to leave on time and enjoy their personal time away. Employees who feel like expectations are too high should also communicate with their higher-ups rather than allowing their frustrations to fester. If that seems scary, try tapping your human resources department to help make things smoother. After all, it’s better for everyone to keep employees from burning out!