In a new study from Ohio State University, researchers found feeling like leisure is wasteful and unproductive may lead to less happiness and higher levels of stress and depression.
They examined the effects of a common belief in modern society: that productivity is the ultimate goal and time’s a-wasting if you’re just having fun.
They found people who most strongly agreed with this belief not only enjoyed leisure less, but also reported poorer mental health outcomes.
In one experiment, 199 college students rated how much they enjoyed a variety of leisure activities and completed assessments that measured their levels of happiness, depression, anxiety and stress.
They were also asked how much they agreed with five statements assessing the degree to which they believed leisure is wasteful (such as “Time spent on leisure activities is often wasted time.”)
The team showed that the more the participants believed leisure to be wasteful, the less they enjoyed leisure activities.
That was true whether the leisure activity was active (exercising) or passive (watching TV), social (hanging out with friends) or solitary (meditating).
In addition, the more they thought leisure was wasteful, the lower their levels of happiness and the higher their levels of depression, anxiety and stress.
In another experiment, 302 online participants were asked what they did to celebrate Halloween a few days after the holiday in 2019.
Some of the activities they could choose from were fun for their own sake, like going to a party. Others served a larger goal, such as taking your kids out trick or treating.
The participants were asked to rate how much they enjoyed their Halloween experience.
Results showed that those who thought leisure was more wasteful reported less enjoyment of activities, like parties, that were only about the fun.
But those who participated in fun activities that fulfilled responsibilities, like trick or treating with your kids, didn’t see such a reduction in how much they enjoyed their Halloween.
The researchers were struck by how the negative views of leisure affected the enjoyment of anything fun, no matter the situation or how short the leisure activity was.
The study showed it is not easy to change people’s beliefs about the value of leisure. So a different approach may be needed.
For those who believe leisure is wasteful, it may be helpful to think about the productive ways that individual leisure activities can serve their long-term goals.
In other words, connect each leisure activity to something you want to accomplish.
If you care about depression, please read studies about people with depression lack this stuff in the brain to fight chronic stress and findings of your walking speed may show your dementia and depression risks.
For more information about depression and your health, please see recent studies about this depression drug could also protect against heart disease and results showing that this therapy can effectively treat pain, depression and anxiety.
The study is published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. One author of the study is Selin Malkoc.
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