Can too much free time lead to depression?

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Page last updated: 19/09/2022

Can too much free time lead to depression?

In this article we will discuss if too much free time leads to depression.

We will also discuss how you can make constructive use of your free time or leisure time.

Can too much free time lead to depression?

Yes, too much free time may lead to depression.

Having too much freetime is when our brain tricks us to feel that the time we are not doing anything is the time it feels good and no load of chores are on it. Slowly this feeling turns into a habit of avoiding any task and too much leisure time allows for much more avoidance. 

A 2021 study from the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that having an excess of time was related with lower emotional prosperity because of a lacking feeling of efficiency and reason.  

Soon this links to the person restless about the free time and how to use it, but because the body is now habituated to be in resting mode and it no longer has a sense of urgency or motivation.

This leads to boredom and soon the downward spiral of depression thus it is evident in researches done by different researchers published in the Journal of personality and social psychology that significant levels of spare energy detail lower levels of wellbeing when engaging in unproductive activities.

Too much free time depression: How to make constructive use of freetime

Here are a few things you can do to make constructive use of your free time:

Cooking 

Cooking is an excellent hobby for anyone. It challenges you to be creative, provides an observable result, that you can enjoy alone or share with others. It is an excellent way to connect with other people, and some people also consider cooking relaxing/ 

You can learn recipes from the internet, ask a friend to join you, join classes to meet new people, you can even bake some cookies for the next door neighbour to start a friendship. 

Exercise

Any kind of physical activity is a great hobby for anyone, especially if you experience bouts of depression or related loneliness. Running is a great solitary activity however, it can also improve the state of your physique.

Other than these physical and mental benefits, exercise or running can also help you meet new people who also love running through marathons or through the shared activity of working out together in the gym.  

Journaling

Oftentimes in therapy the clients are asked to maintain a journal and this is because it helps track the person’s behaviour patterns, symptoms and how often they occur. 

The journal can contain small notes on how you may be feeling, your small accomplishments through the day or even the moments where you were at your lowest and why that happened, the journal acts as your safe place. 

Keeping a journal is a very healthy practice and acts as a mental checklist, just like how there is an unconscious checklist for your physical health.

Can too much free time lead to depression?

Spend time with friends

Once you feel like you are up for it, take time to seek out support from your friends, family, and loved ones. Positive relationships are also important for wellbeing. 

Talk to them about how you are feeling, allow them to get distracted while doing fun things together. Let them provide you company when you do not want to be alone- take effort to reach out to them. 

Allow yourself to feel loved by people who genuinely care for you and seek out new meaning from these positive and healthy relationships. 

Focus on self-care

While it might be hard to take care of yourself- you might find it hard to eat, wash, wake up, and do other basic things. 

It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward. 

Taking care of your physical needs is very important as it is a way to care for yourself. Taking care of your emotional needs is also important and you can work towards emotional self care after taking care of your physical needs first. 

You can choose to make new changes that help you feel better or healthier like going to the gym, changing your diet to a more healthy one, going for wants. Sometimes change in routines can also be your way of caring for yourself. 

Idleness and depression: is there a link?

Yes, there is a direct link between Idleness and well-being. 

As the journal of personality and social psychology study shows the link between lack of efficiency and low level of well-being , it can be suggested that being Idle more than a certain amount can make a person depressed, lowering  their well-being

It not only makes one get accustomed to the feeling of idleness as a relaxed tension free state but also makes the brain mechanism get linked to certain psychological issues such as depression, anxiety etc. 

Why does too much free time cause depression?

According to a Study on Implications of the Brain’s Default Mode in 2012, researchers suggest that idleness could disrupt the development of certain psychosocial aspects of a person.

The study suggests that whenever individuals rest they connect with an alleged default mode (DM) of brain handling.

This default mood is moderately smothered when focus is centred around the rest of the world and this can further smother an individual’s mental processes of reviewing individual recollections, envisioning the future, and experiencing their emotions. 

It is possible that this lack of inattention and not being present with oneself can lead to an unhealthy state of being. Mindless idleness can disrupt an individual ability to attend to their motivations and drive to build and grow. 

When growth is shunted and the individual remains in place, this can lead to boredom and soon the downward spiral of depression as one being to avoid situations since they are now used to the lack of urgency- and this ultimately leads to the lack of progress in one’s life. 

What to do if you have depression?

If you have depression and you have been discharge, here are a few things that one can do to seek help:

Reach out

Here are a few resources form the NHS that you can make use of if you are suicidal, depressed, or engageing in self harm. 

  • Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: jo@samaritans.org for a reply within 24 hours
  • Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
  • If you’re under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.
  • Self Injury Support webchat (for women and girls) is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7pm to 9.30pm
  • CALM webchat (for men) is open from 5pm to midnight every day

You can also reach out to your local medical service providers or a mental health service provider. 

If you are hesitant about reaching out for help, speak to a trusted friend or adult about what you are going through.

Seek professional help

Seek out professional help when these thoughts don’t improve after a week or two even after you have tried to manage them alone. 

It is also imperative that you seek out help when the intensity of these thoughts and feelings disrupt your ability to function and meet the demands of your daily life. 

When loneliness turns to thoughts and feelings of hopelessness it can aggravate your suicidal ideation, this is a major symptom of depression. So seeking out professional help becomes necessary. 

Join a support group

Another thing you can do for yourself is to join a support group of people struggling with depression so that you can experience emotional support first hand within these communities and over time learn how to manage your challenges by learning from each other. 

By joining a group that is open, empathetic, and growing towards healing, you and your experiences can be an excellent sense of support to someone else who is also in their early part of their journey. 

Conclusion

In this article we will discuss if too much free time leads to depression.

We will also discuss how you can make constructive use of your free time or leisure time.

FAQ related to Can too much free time lead to depression?

How does free time affect mental health?

Too little free time can lead to stress and this can ultimately impact one’s mental health. On the flip side, having too much freetime is when our brain tricks us to feel that the time we are not doing anything is the time it feels good and no load of chores are on it. Slowly this feeling turns into a habit of avoiding any task and too much leisure time allows for much more avoidance. 

What happens when you have too much free time?

Too much free time can lead to depression and anxiety.  Mindless idleness can disrupt an individual ability to attend to their motivations and drive to build and grow. 

When growth is shunted and the individual remains in place, this can lead to boredom and soon the downward spiral of depression as one being to avoid situations since they are now used to the lack of urgency- and this ultimately leads to the lack of progress in one’s life. 

How much free time per day is healthy?

A healthy amount of free time per day is three and a half hours. This allows the individual to rest and relax while at the same time provides them enough time to tend to their responsibilities. 

References

Immordino-Yang MH, Christodoulou JA, Singh V. Rest Is Not Idleness: Implications of the Brain’s Default Mode for Human Development and Education. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2012 Jul;7(4):352-64. doi: 10.1177/1745691612447308. PMID: 26168472.

Sarah Simon. Study: More Free Time Won’t Always Make You Happier. Verywellmind. Retrieved on 23rd April 2022. https://www.verywellhealth.com/too-much-free-time-researchers-5201270

Too much free time may be almost as bad as too little. Science Daily. Retrieved on 23rd April 2022. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210909124451.htm

Joseph Guzman. Scientists find too much free time is bad for you. ChangingAmerica. Retrieved on 23rd April 2022. https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/571698-scientists-find-too-much-free-time-is-bad-for-you/