Psychological Detachment

A First Steps NZ Resource by Umbrella

How to get the most out of your downtime.

Most of us would agree that time away from work is important to our wellbeing, and to restore our ability to perform well when we return. But in our hectic lives, it can be hard to switch off and properly recover. How often have you got to the end of your weekend only to feel as though you need another one?

Psychologist Sabine Sonnentag has researched a particular skill called “psychological detachment”, which helps to maximise the benefit of our time outside work. In her research, psychological detachment was a better predictor of positive mood and less fatigue than the amount of time people spent in non-work-related activities. These findings indicate that being able to mentally switch off from work is more important for our ability to recover than the activity we do or how long we do it for. Psychological detachment is therefore defined as the ability to mentally disconnect from work and not think about job-related issues when you are away from your job.

Man fishing on a New Zealand river with mountains in the background

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