If you ask virtually anyone about their nighttime routine, they’ll say how important is it for them to take the time to disconnect from their work—whether that means watching an episode of The Office, meditating, or diving into a good book. But sometimes, totally forgetting about your to-do list isn’t the best relaxation method. According to a new study, checking your work email during off-hours can actually help you to feel less stressed.
Research conducted by the University of Sussex saw that blanket bans on email during nonworking hours (companies in the U.K. have started doing this!) don’t always lead to better mental health for employees. While the enforced disconnecting can help some people decompress during their downtime, for employees with higher levels of anxiety (self-reported through questionnaires and interviews), the bans resulted in increased stress; the accumulation of tasks and messages overnight only made them feel overwhelmed.
According to lead author Dr. Emma Russell, the ideal solution is to find whatever strategy works best for you, according to your goals and stress level. If you need a complete break from work in order to return the next day feeling motivated and clearheaded, feel free to get rid of those push notifications in the evening. But if you’d rather always have your finger on the pulse of what needs to be done so you can feel on top of things, check your in-box guilt-free. Plus, making it a nightly ritual, just like applying that face mask, will help you be more efficient. Just promise you won’t stay on your phone all the way up until bedtime, okay?
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