This diary study builds on the effort-recovery and broaden-and-build theories to examine whether the subjective experience of off-job activities (work-related, household, social, physical, low-effort) matters for an individual's daily recovery from work. It was hypothesized that momentary happiness experienced during off-job activities stops the prolongation of load reactions from work-related effort, and builds personal resources that benefit daily recovery from work. Using a day reconstruction method, 384 participants recruited via a Dutch website reconstructed their time spent on, and happiness during, off-job activities, and their daily recovery on workdays over a two-week period. Results of hierarchical linear modelling showed that work-related and household activities during off-job time were negatively associated with recovery at bedtime when happiness during such activities was low, but not when happiness was high. Social and physical activities were associated positively with recovery when happiness during such activities was high, but negatively when happiness was low, indicating that such activities only aid recovery when they are enjoyed. The findings expand knowledge on recovery by showing that it is not just the time spent on off-work activities but the subjective experience of such activities that plays a pivotal role in the way they are linked to recovery.

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Work and Stress
Erasmus School of Economics

Oerlemans, W., Bakker, A., & Demerouti, E. (2014). How feeling happy during off-job activities helps successful recovery from work: A day reconstruction study. Work and Stress, 28(2), 198–216. doi:10.1080/02678373.2014.901993