The digital age has revolutionised our home and working lives in a whole host of ways, most of which are for the good. However, that is not to say that it hasn’t brought us some additional challenges along the way. Central to this is the huge volume of communication to which we are exposed every day. Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp and text messages pop up on our screens day and night, but perhaps the biggest culprit of them all is email.
What is email anxiety?
Researchers estimate that more than 200 billion emails are sent per day. With around two billion email users in the world, the calculation is not a complicated one – we can expect to receive an average 100 emails daily. That’s more than 3,000 per month. Email anxiety is not just about the productivity-related stress at work that you feel if you can’t stay on top of your inbox. Email can also trigger social anxiety due to the very nature of the messages. Here are some common manifestations of email anxiety, along with some tips for dealing with them.
There is just too much
If you are receiving more emails than you can cope with, the first thing is to sort the wheat from the chaff. If you receive lots of junk, make your first job of the day to open each message, and if it is something you don’t want, hit the unsubscribe button, and then delete it. It takes a matter of seconds per message and suddenly the list of mails requiring attention is far lower. With the junk cleared, reward yourself with a five minute break, take a natural snack or supplement to boost your serotonin, and you can dive into the task ahead with renewed enthusiasm.
Someone is slow to reply
If you are waiting for a response that never comes, your brain starts coming up with all sorts of stories to explain it. And few of them are good. We feel rejected, or worry that we have said the wrong thing and the person is unhappy with the message we sent.
Remember that nine times out of ten, email behaviour is about the sender, not the recipient. In other words, there is a 90 percent chance that the delay in replying is down to something at their end and completely unrelated to the message you sent.
The reply comes, but is unenthusiastic
Whether it’s a mail from your boss saying the project you just managed was fine or something from a lover saying it will be nice to have dinner later, it’s easy to read too much, or too little into a message. Fine? Nice? Well just forget it if that’s all I mean to you. And there, in a nutshell, is the biggest problem with written messages.
Not every writer fills their messages with effusion, smileys and exclamation marks, and even if they usually do, there is often a logical reason for a lack of it. Perhaps they are hurrying, distracted or just in a bad mood. Again, the point to remember is that the tone, or lack of, is more often a reflection on the writer than anything to do with the person to whom they are writing.