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A study conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University found that people who view leisure activities as a waste of time are more likely to develop depression and stress. People who do not see the importance of taking breaks from their daily lives are less likely to be happy and can cause negative impacts on their mental health.

Researchers looked into people who believed that productivity is more important than enjoying themselves. They realized that such people allocate less time for leisure and have poor mental health.

Leisure can be structured differently for people who think it is wasteful

According to Professor Selin Malkoc from OSU’s Fisher College of Business and a co-author for the study, previous studies have shown that leisure has a lot of mental health benefits as it helps people manage stress. People who think it is a waste of time spend less time on themselves, become stressed and could even develop depression.

However, co-author Professor Rebecca Reczek suggests that leisure can be framed differently to encourage people who do not like it to engage with it. This can be done by making it seem to have a productive goal.

How researchers conducted the study

In an experiment involving 199 participants, researchers asked college students to rate the levels of enjoyment they felt with different activities. They then assessed their happiness, stress, anxiety and depression. Whenever participants thought the activity was wasteful, they reported higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression and lower levels of happiness.

In another experiment, researchers asked 302 participants how they spent Halloween in 2019. Others said they went to parties to have fun while others take children trick or treating. People who thought leisure was wasteful derived less happiness from attending parties as it served no goal other than fun. However, they derived more pleasure from trick or treating as it served a purpose.

Another study looked into how other countries viewed leisure. The survey of France, India and the U.S concluded that the French were not as likely to think relaxation was wasteful. However, those that did suffered the same risks.

Researchers believed that people who thought leisure was wasteful should take a different approach and find productive ways to enjoy themselves.