Only 3% of our time is spent doing things we actually enjoy

Posted by
Lauren Geall
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With longer commutes, more overtime and “productivity-porn”, we’re spending fewer hours than ever doing the things we really enjoy – here’s why that’s a problem.

We all have a couple of activities in life which we can confidently say we really enjoy.

Whether it’s playing with your dog or sitting on the beach reading a book, we all have those little things which are guaranteed to bring us happiness. The real question is, are we spending enough time doing those things?

The answer is most likely no. Research from adult education college City Lit has found that a third of us spend less than 42 minutes a day doing something we enjoy – just 3% of our daily 24 hours. And while the average person will spend around eight of those hours asleep, that still means we’re only spending around 4.5% of our waking hours enjoying ourselves.

But spending time having fun and doing an activity purely for pleasure is actually exactly what we need more of – especially when more and more of us find ourselves suffering from mental health issues including anxiety and depression. It’s integral self-care to give ourselves the chance to unwind and have fun: so why aren’t we doing it? 

Woman laughing against a pink background
Happiness: Spending time doing the things we enjoy can help us to feel less stressed and avoid burnout.

We’ve probably got our current working culture to blame, at least in part. After all, the growth of so-called “productivity-porn” and the pressure to juggle one or more “side-hustles” has meant we have a lot less time to dedicate ourselves to hobbies simply because they bring us joy – now, there’s a certain amount of pressure to be successful and demonstrate our achievements on social media. And it’s having dangerous consequences: more and more of us are now dealing with chronic stress or burnout. 

But it’s time to make a change. Whether it’s picking up a new type of exercisejoining a class simply for the pleasure of learning, picking up a new hobby such as gardening or reclaiming our lunch breaks to pursue the activities we enjoy, we all need to be taking those little steps in order to improve that measly 3%. 

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And it doesn’t have to cost you the world – simply spending time in nature has been shown to be beneficial in reducing stress levels, and a recent study has revealed that taking a stroll around your local park can improve your mood just as much as Christmas.

Why not set aside an hour in total every day this week to do something you truly enjoy? No matter what the activity is, it’s clear we all need to be a little bit kinder to ourselves – and that starts with having some good old-fashioned fun. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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