People need so much free time to be happy

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From: Andrea Stettner

Too little relaxation triggers stress in people – too much makes you dissatisfied. Scientists have found out how much free time really makes you happy.

Overtime at work, then taking care of the children and cleaning the apartment – if you spend your day at work, you hardly have time to relax. And that can have serious health consequences. Quite a few people slip into a burnout with a constantly full schedule*. Or they adopt unhealthy eating habits and don’t exercise as often.

However, less available time also means less time for social contacts and active leisure activities like cinema, sports or creative hobbies. According to researchers, it is precisely these two ways of using one’s free time that are associated with happiness. But how much free time do people need to go through life happily and contentedly? American scientists have investigated this question – and have actually found an answer to it.

Study clarifies connection between free time and satisfaction

For their study, US scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and California (UCLA) examined around 35,000 people in 2018. Her goal was to find out if there was one ssignificant correlation between the amount of free time and the life satisfaction of the persons examined. Leisure time was considered to be the time when people are awake and can do whatever they want. Activities included about Time with friends and family, watching TV, culture, playing games or just doing nothing. On the other hand, they did not classify time spent on work, household chores, childcare, doctor visits, etc. as free time.

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Just a few hours of rest from work are enough to make people happy. © Westend61/Imago

So much free time makes you happy and content

The result: In fact, people are particularly happy when they are average 2.5 hours of free time a day be available. This value applies to employees who are employed. For people who do not work, the optimal value is around 4 hours and 45 minutes. Less spare time stresses people on the other hand.

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Too much free time can have negative consequences

However, more free time does not automatically mean that people are happier – quite the opposite. According to the study, more free time apparently leads to those affected feel unproductive. However, it also depends on how those affected spend their time. According to the researchers, those who meet other people in their free time or pursue other meaningful activities such as voluntary work will not be dissatisfied. On the other hand, people who spend most of their time alone, for example in front of the television or on the Internet, tend to be less happy if they have too much free time.

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