Is Being At Home More Stressful Than Being At Work?

Time to throw away all those cliches about work being super stressful. New research released by the Council on Contemporary Families suggests that, contrary to popular belief, many people feel less stressed at work than they do at home.

Pennsylvania State University researchers sampled cortisol levels of 122 workers, both during the week and on weekends. Surprisingly, levels of this stress hormone turned out to be lower overall when participants were at work, compared with when they were at home. So get out of bed and get to work earlier if you want to be more relaxed!

Well, not so fast. While workers were happier and less stressed on the job than they were at home, the effect was more pronounced in women than in men. This potentially reinforces assumptions about gender roles; in short, household tasks fall to women more frequently than they do to men, meaning home is less likely to be a place of relaxation and more likely to be a classic "second shift" of work.

But it could also suggest that work holds benefits beyond a paycheck. The New York Times gives more context to the study:

The finding suggests that for many people, the workplace is a sort of haven away from life’s daily problems. At home, the pressures of juggling work and family responsibilities set in and cause us to feel more stress. “The fact that people’s stress levels go down when they are at work, I don’t think it means that they don’t like their homes or their kids,’’ said Sarah Damaske, an assistant professor of labor and employment relations at Penn State and the study’s lead author. “I think it suggests that there is something about work that is good for you. Being in the moment, focusing on a task, completing that task, socializing with your co-workers — all of these are beneficial and that’s part of what’s lowering your stress level.’’

Being present and focused leads to less stress and more happiness? Who knew?!

What do you think of these findings? Do you feel less stressed at work or at home?

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