Did you know that all that housework you do at the end of the day could be affecting your health? A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology,
done by researchers at the University of Southern California reported that the stress endured by couples today is taking a tremendous toll on their well-being.
This study was done using couples with a median age of 41 who all had a child at home between the age of 8 and 10 years old. The couples were all dual income earners in Los Angeles. This scenario in an of itself can carry with it certain stressors, but how these couples managed household tasks was a significant contributor to their overall stress load.
Using measurable cortisol blood levels to determine the presence of stress, the researchers noted that there was a change from the usual decrease in these stress hormone levels at the end of the day. Instead, the levels were remaining consistent or increasing. We typically think of the evening as a time to relax and unwind and this state correlates with decreased cortisol levels. When our body remains in action mode, internally or externally, relaxation becomes difficult to achieve.
Individuals who have consistently high cortisol levels are susceptible to a host of both mental and physical illnesses. They even tend to have a shorter life span so these findings are critical. Our home life obviously has a tremendous impact on our overall health and this report focuses specifically on the inverse relationship between the stress of a working mother and a working father.
For example, the study showed that a working mother’s cortisol level decreased significantly when her husband assisted with the housework at the end of the day. Conversely, a working father’s stress level only decreased if his mate relaxed less and picked up most of the chores while he relaxed more. In essence, this “second shift” is much different for women than it is for men, even though traditional roles have changed greatly in America.
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a good solution when it comes to sharing the load. In other words, it is hard to achieve a scenario that results in less stress for both partners. This doesn’t mean that people should stop trying to find ways to minimize their stress in general. It may mean more planning ahead and a better division of labor throughout the course of the week to reduce the burden of after work responsibilities. Once the kids are in bed couples should find ways to unwind together. Not only is this good for your relationship but it is also good for your health.
RELATED FROM AROUND THE WEB