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Study: Work stress exacerbates at home

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A Pennsylvania State University study suggests that although Americans feel stress at work and at home, people tend to be more aggravated in their places of residence.

In a “Today” show blog, Allison Linn says Penn State had 122 working adults self-report their stress levels at various intervals throughout the day, and they also took a swab test to measure their levels of cortisol, which is a major indicator of stress.

For a majority of the participants, cortisol levels were higher at home — instead of at work.

A Penn State professor and one of the reports’ authors, Sarah Damaske, said the participants’ self-reported levels of stress didn’t always match the results of their cortisone tests. In other words, people often lied or under-emphasized their stress levels during the study.

Damaske said a lot of the stress at home seemed to come from combining work and home responsibilities.

She said the findings don’t necessarily suggest that people should work more, or that they aren’t happy at home.

Instead, she thinks it implies that the stress of trying to get everything done at home and at work tends to come out once people are home.

Damaske said the findings also helped researchers reach some other conclusions, such as work being healthy for people. Employment tend to have health benefits, compared to those who don’t work, Linn wrote.

“What we’re finding suggests that work is good for you — that there actually are benefits to working,” she said.

The Penn State findings were consistent for men and women, and similar for parents and non-parents.

There was, however, one exception found in the study when it came to stress at home and on the job: Higher-income workers’ stress levels were about even in both locations. Damaske said that phenomenon wasn’t surprising, since previous research shows that people in higher-status jobs tend to experience more stress.

Mac & Gaydos

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