Take a break: Studies show relaxing on the weekends offers health benefits

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Kelley Holland

It’s safe to say many of us look forward to the weekend. Although it is only two days and often goes by far too fast for our liking, it provides a chance for relaxation. If you have the opportunity, you should probably take it: Science says so.

According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, both men and women consistently feel better mentally and physically on the weekend.

The study tracked 74 adults between the ages of 18-74 who worked at least 30 hours per week. It took note of their emotions as well as physical ailments throughout the work week and weekend. Physical symptoms of stress such as headaches and low energy rarely appeared during the weekend.

Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, helped lead the study.

“Our findings highlight just how important free time is to an individual’s well-being,” Ryan said in the study.

A 2016 study from the University of British Columbia found free time brings more happiness than making money. After surveying almost 4,700 people, a link between treating time as a priority and increased happiness was found.

Canadian journalist and author Katrina Onstad wrote a book titled “The Weekend Effect: The Life Changing Benefits of Taking Time Off and Challenging the Cult of Overwork.” The book, published in 2017, delves into the history behind weekends and the importance of leisure time.

Onstad’s book also examines the culture society has created in which employees feel pressured to answer emails and work extra hours on weekends.

In today’s world, we often feel the need to always be occupied. No one wants to be seen as “lazy.” Onstad discusses this in her book and explains why it’s important for people to slow down at times.

“We need to look at this as a public health issue,” Onstad told Toronto Life magazine in an April 2017 article. “Overworked and burnt-out employees are less productive, make more mistakes, are less happy, have more mental health issues and so on.”

This has become a concern all around the world. So much so that France passed a law in 2016 giving workers the “right to disconnect” after work hours. The purpose of the law is to deter workers from sending or responding to emails after hours.

Some reasoning behind the law states those who check and reply to their work emails out of hours were not being paid for overtime. This also causes “stress, burnout, sleep problems and relationship difficulties.”

So, if you don’t have to work over the weekend, take the opportunity to catch up on sleep, read a good book or binge your favorite series. These are all good ways research says to de-stress and feel recharged for the upcoming week.

Features reporter Kelley Holland can be reached at [email protected]