Can’t Get a Vacation? Get in a Vacation Mindset Anyway

A recent report from UCLA’s management school suggests that treating your weekends the same way you would a vacation might allow you to approach the start of your workweek with a little more energy.

Taking a day off  might feel impossible sometimes, but there may be a simple solution to helping improve your work-life balance.

And it has everything to do with how you spend your weekend.

How Vacation Increases Happiness [PDF], a recent working paper from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, found that vacations made people happier in general, but in situations where PTO was a faraway dream, a shift in mindset around weekends—by treating them like a vacation—apparently went a long way.

“Viewing this time as a vacation led participants to attend more to the present moment, which increased their enjoyment over the weekend and, ultimately, their happiness when back at work on Monday,” the paper said.

The researchers put on two sets of experiments—each having one group treat a standard weekend like a normal weekend, and another take on a more adventure-like approach to their off-time. The subjects, although using different measures in each experiment, found that there were more positive effects for those who didn’t let work get in the way of their weekend.

The UCLA-based researchers—Colin West, Cassie Mogilner Holmes, and Sanford E. DeVoe—based their research on prior data that found people were happier if they took more vacations. But people take weekends off all the time; what’s the secret? According to a news release from UCLA Anderson, it has much to do with being pushed away from the same-old, same-old.

“West, Holmes, and DeVoe teased out that it wasn’t that the vacation-minded were happier because they did fewer chores or spent more time on enjoyable activities,” the release stated. “It had more to do with the fact that once nudged out of their normal weekend routine, they spent the weekend being more present in whatever they were doing.”

In other words, it has nothing to do with traveling anywhere necessarily and everything to do with embracing the world already around you with a little more gusto.

(Poike/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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