A new study has revealed that people can be just as unhappy with too much free time as they are without it, going against the common belief that everyone’s mental health would improve with more time to relax.
In fact, the study showed that three and a half hours of free time per day was the optimum time to make people happier and fulfilled on a day-to-day basis. After seven hours, people began to show signs of declining mental health and guilt. However, happiness could also greatly depend on how people used their free time. If they used it in a productive way, doing enjoyable tasks, it ultimately still made them happier.
Study leading author Marissa Sharif, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said, “We find that there is an upside-down U-shaped relationship between free time and happiness. If there is too little, people are less well off than if there is a moderate amount because they feel a lot of stress because there is not enough time to do the things they want to do. The more interesting thing is that having too much free time is also associated with lower levels of well-being and happiness.”
The study was ultimately pretty muddled, as there was a variety of other factors that affected the participant’s well-being, including personality, how they spent the free time, and whether or not they were alone.
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