Feel like You Can Never Unplug from Work? Here's Why

By Lauren Le Vine, REDBOOK.

With the advent of smart phones, it's now harder than ever to disconnect from work. You have your phone with you at all times, and your email is on your phone, so what's the big deal about glancing at it from time to time? Unfortunately, those "I'll just see if anyone emailed" checks turn into "I'll just quickly respond to this; it seems urgent" matters in no time flat. We already know that spending more and more time buried in a screen decreases your vagal tone, which in turn alters our ability to empathize and connect with one another. That chronic stress of being plugged in 24/7 has hazardous effects on your health, too.

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A recent study done by the Mayo Clinic showed that being under constant pressure effects our body's natural fight-or-flight response to threats, which is only supposed to be for short-term, immediate stressors. If the stress-response system persistently remains active, it disrupts the body's natural processes, putting you at greater risk of developing heart disease, sleep or digestive problems, depression, obesity, memory impairment, and more.

Luckily, April is National Stress Awareness Month, and this year, the focus is on workplace wellness. If it feels like your job is a source of constant worry and stress, try these tips from our recent article on workplace stress, Your Job Is Ruining Your Body: Physical Symptoms of Stress at Work to get on the path to workplace wellness right now.

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1. If you sit down for hours and hours at an end, stand up! "For five minutes every hour, get up and do something - I tell my patients to set an alarm or put it on their calendars," recommends Pamela Peeke, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore and author of Body for Life for Women.

2. Sitting for too long can also strain your lower back, tailbone, and sciatic nerve, so add in some easy stretches. One of Peeke's favorites is crossing one leg over the other and leaning forward for a few seconds, then switching sides.

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3. Get active! If you sit all day, don't do the same exact thing when you get home at night. Try taking a short walk after dinner to get those muscles moving.

4. Take breaks from typing and stretch your wrists.

5. If you stand all day, it's actually recommended that you move around even more once you clock out. Increasing circulation to the area can soothe leg fatigue and reduce swelling.

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