Too Much Free Time Can Be a Bad Thing for Your Health

Recent research from the American Psychological Association suggests that too much free time can be almost as bad for your mental health as too little, leading to greater stress and lower subjective well-being.Too Much Free Time Can Be a Bad Thing for Your Health

For the study, a team of researchers analyzed data received from 21,736 Americans who took part in the American Time Use Survey in 2012-2013. Participants were asked to provide a detailed report of what they did during the prior 24 hours. They also had to mention the duration of every activity and their sense of well-being.

The analysis showed that higher levels of free time were significantly associated with higher levels of well-being, but only up to a certain point, and after that point excess free time was not associated with greater well-being.

Lead author Marissa Sharif, Ph.D., an assistant professor of marketing at The Wharton School, says: “Our findings suggest that ending up with entire days free to fill at one's discretion may leave one similarly unhappy. People should instead strive for having a moderate amount of free time to spend how they want. In cases when people do find themselves with excessive amounts of discretionary time, such as retirement or having left a job, our results suggest these individuals would benefit from spending their newfound time with purpose.”

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