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Did you know that social and professional interaction outside of family life has a positive effect on the brain? A recent study comparing the physical and mental health of stay-at-home mothers and mothers who are employed showed that having some sort of activity outside of the home to focus on, in addition to the family, made for healthier and happier mommies at age 40.
A study performed by Adrianne Frech, Assistant Sociology Professor at the University of Akron in Ohio, and Sarah Damaske of Pennsylvania State University, has indicated the reason for the health boost is that full-time work and/or consistent social interaction allows women to have a sense of purpose outside of familial responsibilities.
Work outside of the home appears to allow moms an outlet for continuing their professional interests, and feeling a sense of success and purpose in a different facet of everyday life. Plus, it provides many with a sense of financial security. The study showed that many full-time working mothers showed less symptoms of depression and decreased physical health than those who have no social outlet. Not only does a profession present an opportunity to converse about work-related topics, but these mothers also have the chance to share the happenings in their personal lives with others, as well.
The study also showed that more mothers who have chosen to stay with their children full time exhibited the same health benefits as those working full time, as long as they had a similar level of social interaction with other adults. There are many mommy groups available both in the community and online that are available for SAHM’s, and their children, that can help provide an outlet from the daunting day-to-day task of raising a family. Interaction with other parents who stay at home full time has shown to carry the same health benefits exhibited by mothers who work full time. Many SAHM’s not only find personal joy in interacting with other adults, but they can also seek and provide advice, as well as organize fun activities that can be “adult only” or for the whole family.
Interestingly enough, the study also found that even though mothers who work part-time have that same benefit as those who work full-time, the uncertainty of a lot of job situations in the current economic situation can lead to challenges and increased stress levels. Because of the unfortunate fact that part-time workers are more often subjected to lay-offs, unemployment can be a very real concern for those families who depend on dual incomes. The stress this can create on a mother who is working hard at balancing professional and familial challenges can actually yield a negative effect on her overall health, both physically and mentally.
Conversely, the study showed that those full-time moms who are only able to stay home full time temporarily face many of the challenges as part-time working mothers. Because jobs are so limited right now, many employers appear to be more inclined to choose prospective employees who have more up-to-date knowledge and experience, leaving those who have been unemployed – whether it be due to personal choice, or a lack of available employment opportunities – with a more challenged task of finding a job, let alone one with an acceptable wage. The study showed that the inherent ups and downs experienced by those who are having difficulty finding work can lead to depression and decreased physical health.
In any case, much of what this study proved was that it is important to take time out for you. Social interaction outside of the home is important for the mental and physical well-being of many mothers. Whether you enjoy your job, or enjoy staying at home, interacting with people your own age through activities, or conversation, etc. can help boost self-esteem, overall physical well-being, and lead to a healthier and happier home life.
Sources: Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2012/08/21/from-the-mommy-wars-new-groups-of-women-emerge/ Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249299.php Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120819153843.htm