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For less stress, don't eat lunch at your desk at work

Published: Sunday, May 25 2014 12:15 a.m. MDT

Common wisdom typically paints the home to be less stressful than the office. That may not be the case.

Siri Stafford, Getty Images

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Common wisdom typically paints the home to be a more calming place than the office. That may not be the case.

A recent study by the Council on Contemporary Families that tracked cortisol levels — a steroid hormone considered to be a "major biological marker of stress" — has found that, in fact, "people have significantly lower levels of stress at work than at home."

Not only did the study find that work is more relaxing (at least chemically) than the home environment, but the study also claims that women in particular "get more renewal from work than men."

"Our findings suggest that telling people to quit or cut back on work in order to resolve their work-family conflicts may not be the best long-run advice," Sarah Damaske, one of the study's researchers, wrote on the CCF website.

According to The Washington Post's Brigid Schulte, however, the study's findings can be easily misread.

"Before you go off and think that parents, and mothers in particular, are heartless workaholics who prefer endless hours at the office or on the job to the joys of home and hearth," Schulte wrote in response to the study, "consider this key point: Both men and women were a lot less stressed out on the weekend — when they were home — than on the weekdays.

"It’s not so much that people prefer to be at work rather than at home or with kids," Schulte continued. "It’s that trying to do both in the same day is stressful. It’s the juggling that’s killing us."

Whether the stress is actually "killing us," it is certainly impacting well-being.

Forty-two percent of employees leave their work due to stress, Forbes reported in April, and those surveyed in that study said their workplace stress often caused "family issues."

Therefore, if we are to understand both studies, the trial of balancing work and home life causes many to view their domestic duties as more stressful than their vocation. But the stress of workplace duties also leads to a more stressful home environment.

So, without the option of eternal weekends, how can one reduce stress in both the home and the office?

Well, start exercising for one, according to Mint, India's second-largest business newspaper. Mint also suggests other calming practices, such as meditation and frequent breaks while at work.

"Don’t mix technology and food," Dr. Sameer Malhotra told Mint's Kavita Devgan. "Munching on food with the laptop on your lap or ears glued to the phone is a sure-shot stress booster."

JJ Feinauer is a web producer for Moneywise and Opinion on DeseretNews.com. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: jjfeinauer.

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