In the old days, it was normal for the husband to go to work while the mother stayed at home with the kids. In today’s society, more and more women are working full time, and maybe for the better. In a recent study, those working women seem to be in better health both physically and mentally.

On the final day of their annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, the American Sociological Association announced their conclusion that the full-time working moms are displaying healthier signs at age 40 compared to those who are constantly looking for work, who only work part-time, and those who aren’t working at all.

Not only does the study show full-time work is good for women physically, but it’s also healthier mentally. How?

“It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control and autonomy. They have a place where they are an expert on something, and they’re paid a wage,” said Adrianne Frech, Assistant Sociology Professor at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Frech and co-author Sarah Damaske of Pennsylvania State University touched on a particular group of women, those who are unemployed consistently against their will. With this group of women, it’s not their choice to be unemployed, they’re just having trouble finding a secure job that works out for them long term. The stress of instability and finding work only to lose it and have to start over again is what this study says is causes those women in their 40s to appear less healthy compared to those in stable job situations.

“Struggling to hold onto a job or being in constant job search mode wears on their health, especially mentally, but also physically. Women with interrupted employment face more job-related barriers than other women, or cumulative disadvantages over time,” said Damaske.

The study was done on 2,540 women who gave birth between the years of 1978 and 1995. By determining the individual situations both then and now, French and Damaske found through these women that certain decisions women make toward the beginning of their careers can have an impact later on in life.

For example, they found that those who decided to go back to work a short amount of time after maternity leave seemed to have better mental and physical health. Some of their symptoms included more energy, easier mobility, and less signs of depression compared to those who waited a decent amount of time before returning to work.

In conclusion, it is suggested to make wise decisions early on in your professional life. For example, wait to have kids until after you’re done with school. The stress of juggling both kids, school, and in some situations work can be overwhelming and cause health issues later on down the road. When it comes to deciding whether to be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, consider the benefits of working such as higher pay, job security, and chances of promotion. There’s also the chances of divorce. If something like this were to occur to a stay-at-home mom, the stress of going out into the workforce after years of absence can cause overwhelming and unwelcomed stress.

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