The article addresses the correlation between stress and life management as well as the characteristics of the social environment which cause high stress level in different life periods. The study is based on the population survey “Estonia 98” carried out at the department of family sociology of the Institute of the International and Social Studies at Tallinn Pedagogical University (2317 respondents aged 18–70) and on a survey of women with small children in Tallinn “Woman, Family and Work 2000” (1142 women aged 20–39). The response rates were between 68–72.
Results. The vital socio-economic changes in the Estonian society of the last decade have influenced the nation’s health state. Every fourth person confessed having had at least once a week three or more stress symptoms (depression, (over)fatigue, insomnia, the feeling of not coping, etc.) during the last year. Women suffer from stress symptoms more than men. Men’s stress level does not change significantly throughout life (18 percent of men have stress symptoms), more critical are the age groups 18–24 and years after 40–45. Women undergo four periods of higher stress level (35-39 percent have stress symptoms). The main factors of the social environmental are family conflicts, insecurity about job and restrictions in nutrition and spare time because of financial reasons. These life spheres cause stress more in women than in men.
Conclusions. In discussing women’s higher stress level we should not refer only to their higher emotionality and sensitivity – sociological data reveal also objective reasons originating from daily life.