Work may be haven to recuperate from home life stress, research says
The Penn State research finding was similar and emphasizes the need for people to find balance between work and the rest of their lives, Damaske said.
"This suggests that work is still structured as though there's a stay-at-home mom and a bread-winning dad, which is usually not the case," Damaske said. "There are ways to structure work so that people can do it and still have full lives outside of it."
She said men, in particular, may be constrained by notions of traditional roles and find it hard to change what they do.
The researchers suggest companies embrace policies that help workers remain employed and loyal, reaping health benefits while removing some stress from home life. Examples include telecommuting, paid sick days and paternity and maternity leave.
"Flexible workplace means that people aren't in a position to 'fail' at home in order to succeed at work," said Virginia Rutter, professor of sociology at Framingham State University and senior scholar at the Council on Contemporary Families.
She called the research important because "it refocuses our awareness of the tensions in modern life away from too much work and the simplicity of home — i.e. nostalgia for a time that barely existed ever — and says that really we have a lot more to do to give humans balance or peace," said Rutter.
Damaske said she and her colleagues hope the research will prompt more broad discussion about work-life balance: "We keep circling around these questions," she said.
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