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Researchers say it's official: TGIF, baby!

January 15, 2010 |  6:00 am

People are happier and feel better on the weekends, according to new research. Now that may be obvious to you. Indeed, this is the type of study that we at Booster Shots call "one for the duh files." However, on closer examination, the study reveals some interesting observations about leisure time.

For example, everyone is happier on the weekend -- even people who love their jobs and no matter what type of profession one is in or how much one is paid. The study found that people love the freedom associated with weekends and even feel better physically. Perhaps the most surprising finding is that people say they feel more competent during the weekend than they do while at their day-to-day jobs.

Researchers based their findings on responses from 74 volunteers age 18 to 62. Participants monitored their experiences three times daily for 21 consecutive days using simple forms or pagers.

The study reinforces what is known as the "self-determination theory," which means that well-being is based on one's personal needs for autonomy, competence and social relationships. People can tap into those needs more readily on the weekend. Conversely, they may experience time pressures, work demands and unpleasant relationships while at work.

"Far from frivolous, the relatively unfettered time on weekends provides critical opportunities for bonding with others, exploring interests and relaxing -- basic psychological needs that people should be careful not to crowd out with overwork," the lead author of the study, Richard Ryan, from the University of Rochester, said in a news release. The study was published in the January issue of Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

The research reaffirms how important leisure time is to well-being. But, the authors note, it also shows that work really can be a bummer. "These results point to possibilities for improving wellness both through enhancing need satisfactions at work and providing more time for adults that is free from work," the authors wrote.

So, it's true. Down time is really up time. Enjoy your weekend. And if you're working, I'm truly sorry.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Luis Sinco  /  Los Angeles Times