It’s no secret that working moms have a lot on their plate, but new research shows they’re carrying more stress than others.
According to a U.K. study, women who work full-time and are raising two or more kids are 40 per cent more stressed than working women with no children. Even moms with a job and only one kid are under more pressure, as researchers found they had a 18 per cent higher level of stress.
What’s more, working from home and flexible job hours had no effect on moms’ levels of chronic stress, as the only thing reported to help was working fewer hours.
“In terms of reduced hours… both men and women seemed to benefit equally,” Tarani Chandola, a professor of medical sociology at the University of Manchester and one of the study’s co-authors, told Global News.
“But in terms of the stressors that they were facing, basically, there were no men who were the main carers of two or more children and working full-time as well. That combination of looking after kids and working full-time is so very rare among men.”
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Researchers from the University of Manchester and the University of Essex analyzed data from over 6,000 workers in Understanding Society’s UK Household Longitudinal Survey and used biomarkers including blood pressure, cholesterol and stress-related hormones to measure participants’ chronic stress.
Apart from discovering that working moms experience more pressure, Chandola said it was interesting to learn that accommodations like working from home and flexible office hours didn’t improve stress levels.
“When you’re working from home, you’re not really reducing your hours, and for a lot of people, you might actually be increasing your hours, as you’re constantly ‘on’ all the time,” Chandola explained.
“The other thing was ‘flextime’ — when you reschedule your work hours so instead of doing 9 to 5 you do 10 to 6, for example — that wasn’t really associated with any reduction in stress levels .”
Working mothers likely deal with more stress because they are often the primary carers of their children and are also expected to maintain a 40-hour work week.
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The significant amount of stress that full-time working women are under can have negative effects on their professional and personal lives, Chandola said.
He pointed out that high levels of chronic stress can lead to hypertension, heart disease and an increased risk of mortality.
“If the job is particularly stressful, or the job conditions are inflexible, we know that people are at risk for developing physical as well as mental-health problems and could leave the market,” Chandola explained.
“If you become unemployed or retire from work too early, that can cause all sorts of additional health problems.”
Chandola and his team’s findings are to be published in the journal Sociology in early February.
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