When a woman enters midlife, she is more likely to feel less stressed and enjoy a high quality of life, a study has shown, challenging previously held notions that midlife is associated with higher stress and depression. Researchers from the University of Michigan found that perceived stress — a measure of confidence, control and ability to cope with life’s stressors — did indeed decrease for most women over a 15-year span.
While some research suggests that midlife is a dissatisfying time for women, this study showed that women report feeling less stressed and enjoy a higher quality of life during this period. “Our perception of stress decreases as we age through the midlife — perhaps life itself is becoming less stressful, or maybe we’re finally feeling at the top of our game, or maybe things just don’t bother us the way they did,” said Elizabeth Hedgeman, a doctoral graduate at the University of Michigan.
According to Hedgeman, this decrease in perceived stress could be both circumstantial and neurological causes — children have moved out, professional goals are being met, or women might have hit a sweet spot before the next life challenges arise, such as chronic health conditions or aging parents.
Moreover, even women with less education or more financial hardship reported less perceived stress over the midlife. The study, published in the journal Women’s Midlife Health, also found that menopausal status was not a factor, challenging the notion that menopause is associated with higher stress and depression.
“Whatever the root reason, we’re reporting less perceived stress as we age through the midlife and menopause.” The results come from data collected from more than 3,000 women who were recruited between the ages of 42-53.
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