Researchers at the University of Rochester, New York, said that ‘weekend effect’ or happy mood during weekends is largely associated with the freedom to choose one’s activities and the opportunity to spend quality time with the family.
“Our findings highlight just how important free time is to an individual’s well-being,” said lead researcher Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the university. “Workers, even those with interesting, high status jobs, really are happier on the weekend.”
“Far from frivolous, the relatively unfettered time on weekends provides critical opportunities for bonding with others, exploring interests and relaxing — basic psychological needs that people should be careful not to crowd out with overwork,” he warned.
The study, which appeared in the ‘Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology’, tracked the moods of 74 adults, aged 18 to 62, who worked at least 30 hours per week.
For three weeks, participants were paged randomly at three times during the day, once in the morning, the afternoon and the evening. At each page, participants completed a brief questionnaire describing the activity in which they were engaged and, using a seven-point scale, they rated their positive feelings like happiness, joy, and pleasure as well as negative feelings of anxiety, anger, and depression.
Physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, digestive problems, respiratory problems or low energy, were also noted.
The results demonstrated that men and women alike consistently feel better mentally and physically on the weekend regardless of how much money they make, how many hours they work and how educated they happen to be. They feel better whether they are single, married, living together, divorced, or widowed.
The findings indicated that weekends were associated with higher levels of freedom and closeness: people more often were involved in activities of their own choosing.