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Guest Post: Stress and e-mail can be bad for your health!

Published: January 31, 2013 | By | 1 Reply Continue Reading
Sheryl Kraft, Health Journalist

Sheryl Kraft, Health Journalist

In this first-person essay, my friend, health journalist Sheryl Kraft, laments about her stressful e-mail in-box and suggests that friends can be great stress-busters.

By Sheryl Kraft*

As much as I shy away from using the “age card,” I have to remember that even though I might feel 35, my birth certificate will take issue with that fact. So I’ll admit that I’m old enough to remember the days before cell phones and computers.

On the other hand…

I’m not too old to have welcomed all of these things into my life, albeit initially (and sometimes still) with a bit of hesitation and intimidation, not to mention frustration and confusion at times.

Just ask anyone who lives with me – or within earshot of me. I’m sure they’ll tell you all about the pleading, whining, stomping and teeth-gnashing I indulge in when I just can’t take it anymore.

Which is, by the way, often.

And this got me to thinking about how all that frustration and stress must be affecting me. I’ve come to the conclusion that, without a doubt E-mail can be bad for your health.

I send them – lots of them. They’re time-efficient and easier than picking up the phone when your written to-do list is so cumbersome that it makes your pen run out of ink. But the so-called convenience blows up in my face when I have to hunt down the email that got ignored, re-send it, and then gnash my teeth worrying about if the other person even saw it or just decided to blow me off.

Which happens…there’s that word again – often.

I don’t think I’m alone in this e-mail stressdom. I have a sneaking suspicion we’re all suffering from it together, probably to different degrees. And as a health writer, I’m obliged to share this bit of info with you:

Chronic stress is just plain bad for you, affecting every aspect of your life and health: your appetite (stress produces cortisol, an appetite trigger), your sleep, your blood pressure, your thoughts, feelings and behavior. Too much stress can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. It can show itself in ulcers, migraines, heart palpitations and memory impairment.

And don’t even get me started on how messages can be totally misconstrued in emails, with its monotone nature (save for the !’s, :-), and other emoticons). I once had a falling out with a friend – which was probably totally unnecessary – via e-mail; our tones indistinguishable and as a result misunderstood, without the cadence of language.

Maybe you’ve received the advice I once received by a therapist: if you need closure, write down all your feelings in a letter, but don’t mail it. That advice usually did the trick of getting things off my chest without worrying about acting too impulsively and saying something I’d later regret. But that doesn’t always work with e-mail.

How many times have you – in a fit of enthusiasm, passion or excitement – hit the “send” button, only to regret it later?

How about we all agree to indulge in a little email/stress relief a few times daily?

Step away from your e-mail. Stretch, exercise, listen to relaxing music, meditate. Some experts say that certain foods can help fight stress. These include foods rich in folate and vitamins A and C (like papayas, red bell peppers, basil, arugula, sunflower seeds), and foods rich in vitamin B (like lentils, chickpeas and quinoa).

And it might help to reach out to a friend. A good friend can be a huge stress-buster.

But before you do, you might want to consider picking up the phone rather than e-mailing.

*Sheryl Kraft is a freelance journalist, essayist and writer of non-fiction based in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Her writing covers all areas, with a concentration in health, wellness and fitness. Sheryl’s work has appeared in Prevention, Woman’s Day, Everyday Health, Grandparents.com, MinervaPlace, JAMA, AARP, Weight Watchers, Bottom Line/Health, Bottom Line/Women’s Health, Caring Today and assorted Connecticut regional publications. 

Visit her newest blog, My So-Called Midlife, where she writes about growing older and feeling fabulous, and to see what women boomers are talking about.

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Category: Online friends, OTHER ADVICE

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  1. Grace Pamer says:

    Amen to that. Less email, more time with friends face to face. It sounds easy and yet isn’t. Busy lives and all that. Sometimes an email is the best you can do (although I quite like texts too). Still nothing beats a good face to face and/or a good old love letter (yes even to friends). A once in a while friend letter letting them know how much they mean to you works wonders once in a while. I think it’s the shock value! I do it as often as time allows.

    Great post. I hope it helped you destress.

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