Each week, we’re all granted a fresh slate of 168 hours of time to fill. Those hours quickly get snatched up by priorities like logging ample shut-eye, spending time with the ones we love, and—of course—making a living. No shocker here, though: Granting too much time on that final line item often comes at the price of your own mental health. And according to a recent study, while the effects spare no gender, they’re especially pronounced for women.
The research, published in the BMJ’s Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, was conducted on 20,000 adults and found that women who logged “extra-long” hours (defined as more than 55 per week) experienced 7.3 percent more depressive symptoms, such as feeling worthless or incapable, than those who worked between 35 and 40 hours, a press release notes. Plus, while men who worked over the weekends had 3.4 more depressive symptoms than men who worked only during the official workweek, women who clocked hours on Saturdays and Sundays had 4.6 percent more depressive symptoms on average compared to their workweek counterparts.
So basically, if you’re burning the midnight oil or pushing off your self-care Sunday to Kondo your email inbox or perfect a presentation, you might consider drawing a hard line at that 40-hour mark instead. To help, consider even taking your work email off your phone. (Even entrepreneurs have done it and lived to tell the tale.)
“This is an observational study, so although we cannot establish the exact causes, we do know many women face the additional burden of doing a larger share of domestic labour than men, leading to extensive total work hours, added time pressures and overwhelming responsibilities.” -Gill Weston, PhD student at UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care
Although the definitive reason why the depressive gap between men and women remains unknown, the researchers hypothesize that it’s due to women shouldering more emotional labor than men. “This is an observational study, so although we cannot establish the exact causes, we do know many women face the additional burden of doing a larger share of domestic labor than men, leading to extensive total work hours, added time pressures and overwhelming responsibilities,” says lead study author and PhD candidate Gill Weston.
Weston says that, in general, women are more likely to be depressed than men, but certain other factors might be contributing to the statistic as well. “Independent of their working patterns, we also found that workers with the most depressive symptoms were older, on lower incomes, smokers, in physically demanding jobs, and who were dissatisfied at work,” she explains, adding that hopefully—in the future—workplaces will alter work environments to be more flexible for women’s needs. I’ll second that motion.
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