Running a business is no easy feat – building a business alongside everything else (including family, friends and most times than not a full-time job) is even harder! Then we receive those stressful emails…
The truth is, we spend around 28% of our time in the office in our inboxes, and 40% of us check work emails at least five times a day outside of working hours. ( The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies July 2012)
Sanam Hafeez, a New York-based psychologist and an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, says “work-life imbalance” is another driver of burnout:
“Most people used to have 9-to-5 jobs, and people took one hour for lunch outside of the office”
Since most small businesses pretty much run on email, our inboxes now are full of everything and anything including receipts, proposals and quick messages.
“Before the internet and cellphones and email, people could actually go on vacation or take a sick day and be officially disconnected,” she says. “Now there is an expectation that people must be connected to work 24/7 no matter where they are in the world.” (The Great Burnout Debate, 2019)
As well as positive emails and celebratory GIFS, we may occasionally find some “not so positive” emails lurking in our inboxes. One email could truly make or break our day, especially if we check our emails more than three times per day (guilty as charged).
So what can you do when receiving stressful emails?
First, some prep. In order to have the right mindset, you need to start being MINDFUL about your emails. You want to make sure you make time for your emails when you are focused and in the right state of mind.
This may even mean deleting your email app from your phone, even if just for a short period of time. Once you create the space for your emails, is time to deal with your mindset. If you open a stressful email, make sure you take some time before responding.
Rachel Evans, from Healthy & Psyched, has a secret weapon she keeps on her desk as a reset button:
“I keep my favourite essential oil blend on my desk for moments of stress; the blend is called Peace and contains lavender and frankincense among other things, which reduce stress. If I receive a horrible email and I can feel myself being affected by it, then I open the bottle and take a deep inhale and exhale. The oils have a physiological effect, but also it gives me a moment to disconnect from what is happening and then I can reappraise the situation when I go back to my inbox.”
Once you are in the right mindset, it’s time to open your inbox and respond to the email in question. Ignoring the email will not make it go away:
“One of the most important things when receiving stressful emails is not to avoid a response. No one wants a cloud of negativity hanging over their heads for the remainder of the day. If you’ve already addressed the situation, you are less likely to teeter back and forth on how you feel about the email.” adds Angela Ash from Flow SEO “Simply write back, and then take responsibility for the issue or provide an explanation of what went wrong. Sometimes, the best you can say is, I’m so sorry that you feel that way or that you’ve had a bad experience and move on.”