Prevent Waiting on Hold From Damaging Your Health

Prevent Waiting on Hold From Damaging Your Health

Taryn Williford
Sep 27, 2011

Is that hold music supposed to be soothing, Comcast? Guess what? We hate it. It doesn't make us think, "Oh, hey, Comcast, you can keep that bogus $27 service charge I was calling about. The hold music was totally worth it." No. No way. That muzak is so annoying that it's actually giving us high blood pressure, chronic anxiety, headaches, upset bowels and relationship difficulties. No, really. It's science.

The magic number is five minutes and 58 seconds. Apparently waiting on hold on the phone any longer than that can bring on health-threatening symptoms like elevated blood pressure and anxiety, according to a survey of Britons conducted by mobile network giffgaff and the opinion of stress expert Dr. Roger Henderson.

The Huffington Post UK recently reported that in a poll of 2,054 adults, 67 percent said they felt "annoyed" when left waiting on hold, a third experienced feelings of stress while 19 percent confessed to becoming "angry".

Stress expert Dr. Roger Henderson is quoted as saying those frustrating feelings will elevate our stress levels quickly and significantly, causing us to develop "a racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, irritability, anger, frustration and muscle spasms," and eventually health problems like "high blood pressure, chronic anxiety, headaches, stomach and bowel upsets, as well as relationship difficulties."

Even if your annoyed-on-hold symptoms don't get that severe, you've got to admit waiting on the phone gets your blood boiling at least a little bit.

Here's a few things you can do to help your overall physical and mental health while you stay on hold:

  • Try to avoid the hold. A service like LucyPhone can call you back once a real live person picks up the other end. LucyPhone is available as a web application, iPhone app or Android app.
  • Mute the muzak. A surprising 64 percent of people in the giffgaff survey said that hold music made their wait more frustrating. Keep your phone's volume low (but still audible) and try to distract yourself with a book or by watching TV.
  • Get moving. To keep your vitals down, you might try to work your stress away. Try to tackle some stationery exercises while you wait it out, like these desk chair moves or maybe some discreet office yoga.

via Huffington Post UK

(Images: Flickr member achichi licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Elaron licnsed for use under Creative Commons)

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