Women are feeling less stress as they age, says a new study published in Women's Midlife Health. Researchers note factors that contribute to stress include confidence, control and the ability to cope with stressors. The decrease in stress was measured over a 15-year midlife period.
The study also reported that menopause wasn't a factor at all, which is contrary to what is believed about the link between menopause and stress.
Researchers collected information from more than 3,000 women between the ages of 42 and 53. At the end of the study, the mean age was 62 and stress levels had declined with age across all sociodemographic categories.
Interestingly, factors like education, financial hardship and employment were stronger predictors of stress during midlife than menopause.
Women who reported higher stress levels at the beginning of the study continued to have higher stress levels at the end of the study, even though their stress levels had decreased.
While they don't know the reason for the decrease in stress, researchers suggest a few factors, like children that have moved out, having met professional goals, and not yet having to deal with aging parents or chronic health conditions. Previous research has also shown that we are able to better regulate our emotions as we age.
“The neat thing is that for most of us, 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,” says Elizabeth Hedgeman, a doctoral graduate at the University of Michigan School of Public Heath. She worked on the study with professor of epidemiology, Sioban Harlow. “But whatever the root reason, we’re reporting less perceived stress as we age through the midlife and menopause.