Oh, blessed weekend. How you tempt us, make us dream about you and let us enjoy life to the fullest when you finally arrive.
Or maybe not.
If you work, it turns out the level of extra joy you get on the weekends depends on how much you like or dislike your job and your boss, according to a study published this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Love your work and manager? You likely don't feel that much more blissful on the weekends.
The authors examined how our state of mind differs on Saturdays and Sundays versus the rest of the week and found a very striking “weekend effect" overall.
“It’s a shorthand name for positive emotions being higher on a weekend day and negative emotions being lower,” co-author John Helliwell, a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics, told TODAY.
The researchers found that on average, stress plunged by 32 percent on weekend days, while anger and worry dropped by 24 percent. Meanwhile, levels of enjoyment jumped by almost 7 percent, and happiness rose by 4 percent compared to the Monday-Friday routine.
The results are based on four years’ worth of data in the Gallup/Healthways US Daily Poll, in which 1,000 randomly chosen Americans describe how they felt the previous day — seven emotions in all.
The study focused on respondents who worked and who also had to reveal whether their working environment was “trusting and open” and whether their supervisor treated them more like a boss or a partner.
Intriguingly, people who reported a good workplace environment had a diminished weekend effect or didn’t experience one at all.
“They’re happier on the weekdays than the other people. Weekends are more or less the same [for them],” Helliwell explained.
“You can imagine if you had a job that was challenging, that you were doing with people you enjoyed working with, it would be a lot more fun than sitting and watching a video [on the weekend]… they’re lucky people whose weeks are just as good as their weekends.”
Meanwhile, people in a low-trust workplace and with an authoritarian, bossy supervisor had a weekend effect more than three times as large as their luckier counterparts. They felt much more blissful on the weekends because they were more miserable during the week.
The study didn’t find evidence of “Sunday blues,” that sense of dread some people feel on Sundays as they get ready to face a new workweek. The boost in mood, for those who felt it, really was a true weekend effect, rather than just a “Saturday effect,” Helliwell said.
Overall, the study highlights how incredibly important social connections — on and off the job — are when it comes to overall happiness. Spending less time with friends and loved ones during the week combined with having to work in a cold, unfriendly environment accounts for most of the weekend effect, the researchers conclude.
“It really matters to the people in jobs how they regard each other and how much fun they’re having on the job,” Helliwell said.
“People tend to overestimate the happiness they’ll get from material things and underestimate the pleasure of doing things with and for friends.”