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Which is more stressful? Home life or work life?

Mental Wellbeing

6 am, the alarm goes off as you roll out of bed. Shower, coffee, commute, work, and before you know it it’s 6 pm and you’re back home. Does the stress level rise when you walk out the front door in the morning, or when you walk back in later that day?

Forth surveyed 2,000 Brits and found that the most common cause of stress is money, quickly followed by work, health concerns, failure to get enough sleep, and lastly household chores. In a separate study done by Penn State Researchers Joshua Smyth, Matthew Zawadzki, and Sarah Damaske PhD, they measured a biological marker for stress called cortisol levels. They found that people have “significantly lower levels of stress at work than at home” (Sarah Damaske, PhD).

How does stress affect us?

Cortisol is released by the body when we feel stressed. If this is happening too often, our body can no longer respond to stress and we start to feel extremely fatigued.

Stress can also worsen heart problems, respiratory conditions and digestive issues. It can even cause ongoing muscle tension which may lead to a higher likelihood of injury during physical exertion. As we’ve seen in the HSE study, mental well-being can very easily fall victim too, with the likes of anxiety and depression spiralling to extremely unhealthy levels during stressful periods.

Work Stress

According to a study done by Health and Safety Executive, a whopping 526,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, anxiety, or depression in 2017. Furthermore, stress, anxiety, and depression account for 40% of work-related ill health and 49% of working days lost.

  • 12.5 million working days lost due to work-related stress, anxiety, or depression
  • 44% say it’s due to their workload
  • 14% say it’s due to lack of managerial support
  • 13% say it’s due to violence or threats in the workplace
  • 8% say it’s due to changes at work
  • 21% listed other

Home Stress

Family life has its own responsibilities and finding the right work-life balance can be hard. Dishes, laundry, groceries, remembering (and getting too!) appointments… the list goes on! Not to mention making time to shower and iron your shirt for that meeting this morning.

What causes stress?

  • Bringing work home with you
  • Household chores
  • Family dynamic
  • Spousal Relationship
  • Bills
  • Caring for children and pets

When we go to work, we know the exact tasks we have to do, and when 5 o’clock hits we can usually leave it at the door. But when you get home, you have less than half the day to make sure everything else is in order before you head back to work the next morning.

As you grow older and your family grows bigger, you naturally are going to have more responsibilities. Some may be jealous of the singles that wake up and go to work and come home to the house just as they left it, rather than coming home to a house full of chores, responsibilities, and broken appliances. Thinking “they have a stress-free life”.

Male vs Female

The study done by HSE found that females had significantly higher levels of stress than men. Females aged 35-44 were the most stressed while men aged 45-55 were reported the most stressed compared to other ages. Similarly, Forth found that women suffer from stress three more days per month than men. 42% of women believe they are too stressed compared to 36% of men. Money is the most common stressor for women, while men cited work. And when you look at the research done by the Penn State Researchers, you can see that on weekends, women were no more stressed than men. “If home were a constant source of strain, I think we would expect to find a gender difference on the weekend, but we don’t” (Sarah Damaske PhD).

Wrapping Up

Realising that you are stressed out is the first step in improving your overall stress levels and having a happy, healthy home life.

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