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At Home or at Work:Where Do You Stress More?

Stress at work is results-driven; at home, stress comes without a way to relieve it.

| BY Kent McDill

There was a time when home life was the refuge of the work-weary business person.

Not so much anymore, says researchers who have studied stress at home and at work and found that sometimes, work is the place to relax.

National Public Radio looked at some of the research that has been done on work stress versus home stress and found that dealing with family issues can be more stressful than dealing with work issues.

Sarah Damaske, a labor and employment professors at Penn State University, studied stress levels of 122 people to determine when they were the most relaxed during the day, and found that most people were most relaxed while at work.

“This is across gender, across education level, across occupation level,’’ Damaske said. “So, it is a pretty strong finding.”

The study, performed for the Council on Contemporary Families, was done by asking those involved to swab their saliva six times a day for three days to test cortisol levels, which is a biological marker of stress.  At the same time, the participants were asked how they felt at different times during the day. While the saliva tests showed marked differences between stress at work and home, in interviews women were significantly more likely to say they were happier at work.

“Part of this might be women are leaving work and then cooking dinner and doing the dishes,’’ Damaske said. “Even though men are doing more of that than they did 30 years ago, it is still not an even distribution.”

The results were true even for participants who did not have children. Home life was more stressful for them as well.

A study from the late 1990s was done by Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociologist from the University of California, who asked study participants “Where do you feel really good at what you do? Where are you relaxed? Where are you appreciated?”

“People would say ‘if I’m doing the right thing at work, chances are my supervisor is clapping me on the back,’’ Hochschild said. “But if I’m doing the right thing at home with my teenager who wants the car and is made at me, I’m doing the right thing but I’m not appreciated.”



About the Author

Kent McDill


Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.