Want to feel happier at the start of a new week? The key to doing so could be treating your weekends like mini-vacations, according to new research from the University of California, Los Angeles.
For their study, researchers asked one group of participants to treat a weekend as if it were a vacation. The control group, meanwhile, was told to spend their weekend doing the same-old, same-old. Come Monday, participants in both groups were asked to rate their weekends on a scale of one to seven. Those who took a vacation approach to their weekends had a mean score of 5.24, while the control group had a mean score of 4.83. Also, those who approached the weekend like it was a vacation were more present and mindful compared to their peers who followed a regular routine.
So, yeah, go ahead and consider this science-based permission to snub your to-do list this weekend and go for a hike or enjoy a leisurely brunch at home!
After all, past studies have found that taking vacations have a wide range of health benefits, reducing the risk of heart disease, depression and anxiety. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that workers who take vacations are more productive than those who don’t.
Yet even though we know vacations are good for us, many Americans short change themselves when it comes to taking days off. A “Vacation Deprivation” survey from travel site Expedia found that, on average, Americans only use 10 of their 14 allotted vacation days. And when Americans actually do take PTO, two-thirds admit to working while on vacation, according to a separate survey done by Glassdoor.
That’s why we love this simple approach from UCLA that encourages treating each weekend like a mini-vacation so you can get some R&R on the regular.
The study authors say this: “The benefits do not require taking additional time off from work, excessive spending for extravagant travel or the inclusion of particular activities. Fully attainable to anyone, vacations involve a mental break that allows people to become more fully engaged in and absorbed by their time off, making that time more enjoyable.”
How would you make your weekend a mini-vacation?