Americans in general struggle with taking time off. More than half of Americans do not use up their allotment of vacation days. Instead, they focus more on their weekends. A shift in your mindset can make a huge difference on your mental health.
A study by UCLA business professor, Cassie Mogilner Holmes, looks to bring together two examples of time off – vacation and the weekend. She found that treating a weekend like it is a vacation, in any kind of personal interpretation, can have a positive effect on happiness in the following week. If you find yourself nervous and stressed about the week ahead, you should try treating Saturday and Sunday differently.
Over the span of two weekends, Holmes asked 900 study participants to either carry on a normal weekend routine or to “treat the weekend like a vacation.” There was no further instruction or directions given to the weekend vacationers. Many of them had common approaches such as staying in bed longer, indulging in more food, and staying away from housework or job work. The study controlled the spending of money so your happiness could not be gained from expensive dinner or a live show.
For those who were treating their weekend like a vacation, spirits were much higher come Monday morning. Holmes wrote an essay for the Harvard Business Review stating that “When participants were back at work on Monday, we followed up with a survey measuring their current happiness (that is, their positive emotion, negative emotion and satisfaction). The results showed that those who had treated their weekend like a vacation were significantly happier than those who had treated it like a regular weekend.”
A lot of research has been done on vacations. A study from 2010 shows that anticipation of a vacation is almost more enjoyable than the real vacation. Lots of vacations can be stressful, but weekend vacations do not have to be. There is no traveling involved, just relaxing. Most studies find that vacations are vital. A recent study found that people who take more vacations live longer.
If you visualize your time off differently, you will find more happiness. With fewer responsibilities and more separation from your everyday life you are able to prepare yourself for the week ahead. Try out this challenge and see what you find!