People often look forward to the comfort of home after a long and stressful day at work, but a new study suggests that home may not be better than the workplace to relax and unwind.
For the study published by the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit organization that provides information on the latest research and findings about American families, three researchers from the Pennsylvania State University compared the stress levels of over 120 adults at work and at home by measuring their cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress. The researchers also asked the participants to assess and report their stress levels.
The researchers found that the cortisol level of majority of the study's subjects was significantly lower at work than at home, albeit these did not match the participant's self-assessed stress readings. They also found that women are actually happier at work than at home and that mothers and fathers experience less stress at work than at home.
Study researcher Sarah Damaske, from Penn State's School of Labor and Employment Relations, said that the reason why people tend to be more stressed at home than at work is because they try to juggle many responsibilities at once.
"It seems like a lot of the stress at home comes from combining work and home responsibilities," Damaske said. She also said that their study does not mean that people are not happy at home and that they should work more.
She opined that their findings suggest that the stress of doing things at home and at work likely comes out when people get home. The results of the study, however, apparently support findings of earlier studies that show people who work tend to be healthier. Findings of the study "The Relationships between Mothers' Work Pathways and Physical and Mental Health," which was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in 2012, for instance, suggest that individuals who work have better physical and mental health than those who do not work.
"Our findings suggest that telling people to quit or cut back on work in order to resolve their work-family conflicts may not be the best long-run advice," Damaske wrote. "Rather, companies should consider adopting family friendly policies that allow workers to continue getting the health benefits of employment while still being able to meet their family responsibilities."