It is Guilt and not Housework that’s harming your Health!

It is Guilt and not Housework that’s harming your Health!

by Shruthi Venkatesh October 16 2018, 6:38 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 41 secs

According to a recent analysis by the International Social Survey Programme, guilt over not doing enough housework may have a serious impact on the health of working women. “Women who are not working a lot in the house are actually having poorer health than women who are working more household hours,” said Candice Thomas, the new paper co-author and an assistant professor of psychology at Saint Louis University. “How much you work at home is impacting health in a way we didn’t expect.”

A team of researchers followed 130,000 people in 17 countries, of various income levels, from 2003 to 2010; and discovered that they enjoyed the same health benefits whether they were going to the gym, walking to work or doing household chores. Indeed, performing 30 minutes of any kind of physical activity five days a week could slash your risk of death from any cause by 28 percent and your rate of heart disease by 20 percent. According to Thomas, the research shows that the guilt of women is what really matters. It plays a major role in it that they are not giving their ‘fair share’.

Guilt over house-hold work has an impact on women's health. (Practical Intimacy)

According to the analysis, published in the academic journal Sex Roles - “Although the worst health was reported among women with higher work and household hours, the relationship between job work hours and physical health is stronger when women are not contributing to the household workload as intensively.” Some of the researchers suggest that this may pull them down to guilt and the empathy towards their spouses. They may also have a transfer of stress from their better halves.

“Walking for as little as 30 minutes most days of the week has a substantial benefit, and higher physical activity is associated with even lower risks,” lead researcher Scott Lear said about the findings, published in The Lancet medical journal. Previous studies have underscored the importance of regular physical activity. For example, a study of 1,500 older women published earlier this year, found that those who got less than 40 minutes of exercise each day and reported more than 10 hours of daily, sedentary behavior had cells that were eight biological years older than those of their more active contemporaries.

In the UK, on an average of seven days in a week men and women have equal share with the household but men are paid better than women. This data comes from a new working paper by Oxford University’s Centre for Time Use Research (CTUR). Today, while more women are in paid jobs, the traditional stereotype of men and women ‘should’ do with the households still linger on.

A real life incident referred from The Guardian - at 31, Holly Marriott is the founder and CEO of her own company, but still finds she is constantly grappling with a question of her identity: “Am I the powerful person running a business, or am I the person incapable of keeping my house clean?” Marriott lives with her partner in Norfolk, and because of work commitments feels she isn’t able to take on her share of the household work. “It’s classic house pride: ‘I’m a woman – I should be able to keep a house clean.’ But I don’t have time to do that.”

The feeling of guilt is something Marriott can’t seem to shake off – even though she is the higher earner in the household. “I feel like I should be able to do more, even though I work long hours. I think it’s related to traditional roles: even though my role has changed and I’m working flat-out, I feel that I need to keep things tidy. It’s the whole thing of taking an equal amount of weight. I don’t because I haven’t got time to – and that bothers me.”

“Most of such women doing double-shift jobs leave them knackered” said Frances O’Grady, the first female general secretary of the UK’s Trades Union Congress. Therefore the point is clear. Women have less leisure time than men and exposed to very less opportunities. It is high time; working women started sharing their house-hold chores and feeling less guilty about it.

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