Feeling stressed out? Head to work for relief

July 24, 201411:29 am1898 views

A surprising source of stress for many employees? Surprisingly, life outside the office, according to new research.

While managers are used to hearing their employees vent about work stresses,  its entirely possible that larger issues weigh against them. And these come from outside the office. In a research study with a small sample size, Sarah Damaske, an assistant professor of labor and employment relations at Penn State University, discovered many employees may be more stressed at home than at work. Some even view the office as a haven from external stressors (e.g. health problems, personal tragedies & family responsibilities).

According to reports, Sarah Damaske studied stress levels of 122 working men and women. Participants were asked to collect their own saliva samples throughout the day. Damaske then tested samples to determine the leves of cortisol — a hormone produced by the human endocrine system while under stress.

See: Inflexible workforce hurts bottom line

Interestingly, cortisol levels were significantly lower at work than at home. This suggest – biologically speaking – that people are less stressed at work, according to Damaske, who explained that: “No matter how urgent something is at work, you are not as attached to that urgency as you would be to, say, a health scare or the death of a loved one, because we are emotionally entangled at home in a way that we aren’t at work,” Damaske told NPR. “You still know that you can quit, you can look for something else, that you can leave–leave your boss and your bad day behind.

This builds on Damaske’s earlier research regarding the impact on women’s health and work. A study involving more than 2500 mothers who participated that mothers who worked full-time had better physical and mental health than either mothers who worked part-time or homemaker mothers — findings contrary to conventional wisdom. This suggest steady jobs are partially responsible for the well-being of working women.

However, context matters as much when assessing stress in the workplace. There are many factors that could explain this, with differences across professional sectors, workplaces, organisational culture and HR policies within the workplace, accounting for differences. Similarly, cultural variations across state and national boundaries can affect work attitudes.

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