Health Team

E-mail Adds Stress to Daily Life

Posted August 27, 2007

The conveniences of e-mail - speed and mobility - come along with pressure to also be quick in responding.

Researchers from Scotland found that for some people, the words "You've got mail" increasingly also mean "You've got stress."

Lab and researcher administrator Amarillyis Carreira said her inbox is the most cluttered place on her computer and that simply replying to her e-mails can ruin her day.

"I get about 200, 250 emails a day. It is very stressful," Carreira said.

More than a third of people suffer from "inbox stress," according to researchers from Glasgow University and the University of Paisley.

That stress comes from both junk e-mail that gets deleted and legitimate e-mails that require immediate attention. In fact, many people feel pressure to check e-mail when they're not at work and even feel guilty for not responding, psychologist Dr. William Samek said.

That pressure could increase, according to the trends predicted by IDC Consulting, a global Internet consulting firm.

Users will get and send 97 billion e-mails worldwide in 2007, and on average, each person will get 27 spam e-mails for every one business-related e-mail, according to IDC. This year will also mark the first time spam e-mails outnumber personal messages, the firm predicts.

All that spam could add to what Samek identifies as "deletion anxiety."

"I know someone who has had an account for 15 years and has never deleted one e-mail, has every e-mail they ever received," he said.

To relieve inbox stress and deletion anxiety, experts recommend setting certain times to check and respond to messages. Users are also encouraged to go ahead and delete old e-mails.

"It's only e-mail, and people understand if you don't respond too quickly, if you take a day or two," Samek said. "And if somebody gets really upset about that, it's probably more their problem than yours."


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  • the alliance Aug 29, 2007

    What I hate is emailing others at work, professionals, and they dont respond. I get the feeling that they think they are above having to respond to someone, if they don't think they necessarily know them.

  • Drifter Aug 29, 2007

    gmail is awesome, and you can use it as a pop3 email as well (means you can check it on clients like Outlook). I've had some of my old accounts forwarded to Google just to use it as a spam eliminator.

  • Groovy Aug 29, 2007

    i feel the need to trash all of my mail.

  • mluddysr Aug 28, 2007

    Gmail is a mail account hosted by Google. Initially it was by invitation only, but now I think everyone can get it. The feature is you can use anyones computer to check your email. I use it as a database with passwords and account numbers stored there in emails to myself. Somehow, google is excellent at eliminating spam. There is no cost for a gmail account.

  • JustCrazy2 Aug 28, 2007

    Doesn't stress me out. I don't feel like I have to respond to every e-mail and I don't mind deleting junk. ;-)

  • CestLaVie Aug 28, 2007

    mluddysr: I'm curious about gmail; what is it? I've seen it on others' email addresses, but don't know it's origin.

    I figure that the very same people who don't know how to throw things away from their home or office (newspapers, magazines, paid bills, mail, etc.) are probably the same ones who can't delete emails, whether they have been read or not, and, necessary to keep or not.

    I don't have a problem deleting anything I get, either because I don't have time to read it (jokes, chain letters) or don't want to read it. Periodically it might build up, but I just go through the listings and delete, delete, and then it's clear again.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 28, 2007

    Yes that is correct. George Bush don't like people that use email.

  • The Fox Aug 28, 2007

    Hey a new stressor. Maybe I can get disability ;-)

  • RaleighMan Aug 28, 2007

    Why did Al Gore ever invent the internet?! :-)

  • mluddysr Aug 28, 2007

    There is no reason for people to continue to deal with spam. I took a few steps that made a huge difference. First I dumped AOL eliminating most of my spam. Unfortunately, I entered my email address into a few places that I now recognize I shouldn't have, so simply by changing it, the spam stopped. Finally, I'm now mostly using gmail which is more portable and I don't think I've ever seen a single spam there. My poor mother still deletes many pieces of spam daily, but she's 87 and won't leave her outdated AOL account.

    Once you eliminate the spam issue the remaining emails are usually fun, at least for me.