An escape from digital enslavement. No one should be forced to answer work emails at the weekend. There’s no action as simple as turning off phone notifications that has anywhere near the impact.
Taking a break at the weekends is one of the most significant actions we can take to help our self renewal. While we often talk about cortisol as a stress hormone, in fact it’s just our body’s acceleration pedal. It tells our body to keep going. If we keep telling our bodies to be fully on the impact can be cortisol overload.
This essentially ends up in anxiety or burnout.
Taking a pause is proven to have a positive benefit. Not only to our stress levels but to our creativity. In Alive at Work Dan Cable talks through the work of Professor Jakk Panksepp at Washington State University. Panksepp studied rats. He found that any time rats felt stressed (in his case through the placing of cat hair in their cage) they proved unable to show their creative or playful sides (what Panksepp refered to as their “SEEKING system”).
Translating to the modern world of office work and burning ourselves out by emailing on Sunday could well end up with us feeling uninspired with ideas on a Monday.
In his productivity research John Pencavel also observed that people who worked a full week without a break was significantly less effective who rewarded themselves with a clear weekend (of at least a day).
What can we do? Let’s be honest, it’s bosses who make this worse. If any of us are expecting the boss to email over the weekend we all look for it. Try to think of who can have a quiet word. Normally most bosses aren’t aware the stress they’re creating by clearing their inbox on a Sunday morning. It’s easier to police a ‘no fly zone’ at weekends if everyone mentions how unacceptable it is.