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    Too Much Free Time May Be Almost as Bad as Too Little

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    Summary: Having too much free time can be almost as bad for your overall well being as having little or no time to yourself, researchers report.

    Source: American Psychology Association.

    As an individual’s leisure time increases, so does that person’s sense of well-being, but only up to a point. Having too much free time can also be a bad thing, according to recent research.

    Researchers examined the data from 21,736 Americans who took part in the American Time Use Survey, conducted between 2012 and 2013. Participants provided a detailed account of their activity during the previous 24 hours, mentioning the specific time of day and duration of each activity, and reported their sense of well-being.

    The researchers observed that as free time increased, so did well-being, but it stabilized at about two hours and began to decline after five. Correlations in both the cases were statistically significant.

    The researchers also examined the data from 13,639 working Americans who took part in the National Study of the Changing Workforce, conducted between 1992 and 2008.

    Once again, the researchers noticed that higher levels of free time were remarkably associated with higher levels of well-being, but only up to a point. After that, too much free time was not associated with greater well-being.

    To further analyse the phenomenon and to reach a conclusion, the researchers conducted two online experiments which included more than 6,000 participants.

    Participants were spontaneously allocated a low (15 minutes per day), moderate (3.5 hours per day), or high (7 hours per day) amount of free time. Participants were advised to keep an account of the extent to which they would experience happiness, enjoyment and satisfaction and report about it.

    The researchers observed that participants in both the low and high free time groups reported lower well-being than the moderate amount free time group. The study findings suggest that those with low free time felt more stressed than those with a moderate amount, leading to lower well-being, but those with high levels of free time felt less productive than those in the moderate group, reporting the feeling of lower well-being.



    Published: American Psychology Association.

    Contact: Marissa Sharif, PhD, an assistant professor of marketing at The Wharton School.

    Details: Image source IStock

     

    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

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