Recent research published in the Journal of Science and Medicine shows that stress levels in men and women are far lower at work than when they are at home – starkly contrasting common thought that work is the key source of stress in people’s lives.
Furthermore, the careful examination of the stress hormone, cortisol in a variety of workers also found that women tend to be the happiest at work, whilst men tend to be happier at home.
According to Sarah Damaske – a sociologist and women’s studies professor at Penn State University in the US – this big gender difference is linked to the added pressure many women face trying to juggle a career and family life.
“At work, people are potentially completing tasks. They’re able to focus their attention and accomplish things, both those with low and high incomes,” she said.
“They’re not multitasking. We tend to think that jobs are rewarding if they’re professional, but actually people with lower incomes have more stress reduction at work.”
Damaske added that at home it tends to be far more difficult to get things done as there is often too many distractions.
In the study, researchers asked subjects to take saliva swabs five times a day to measure cortisol levels. They were also required to wear beepers to report on their moods when contacted by researchers.
The findings have been linked to earlier research that people who work have better mental and physical health than those who don’t.
The study also backs up research that mothers who work steadily in full-time hours during their 20s and 30s report better mental and physical health at age 45 than mothers who work part-time, stay home with children or have been unemployed.
The published article however did state that both men and women were a lot less stressed at home during the weekend, compared to the weekdays – suggesting that the combination of work and looking after the home in one day can increase stress levels.