Two women sitting on a couch with a dog.Share on Pinterest
New research finds that having quality time to recover after the workday can boost your mood and energy the next morning. SolStock/Getty Images
  • Recovery is the process by which your mind and body repair and recharge themselves.
  • According to a new study, the quality of your recovery after work can affect your mood the next day.
  • Good recovery leaves you feeling calmer and more alert.
  • On the other hand, bad recovery has the opposite effect.
  • Experts say it is important to prioritize recovery each day.

Does the quality of your recovery time after work affect how you feel emotionally the next workday?

New research published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology indicates that this is the case.

The researchers found that people who experienced good recovery were more calm and awake the following day, although these feelings did decline strongly throughout the course of the day.

On the other hand, when employees experienced worse recovery, they had lower levels of calmness and wakefulness the next day. Additionally, on those days these feelings tended to remain more stable.

Recovery is “the process by which our mind and body repairs and recharges,” according to Adam Gonzalez, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, vice chair of behavioral health at Stony Brook Medicine, and founding director of the Stony Brook University Mind-Body Clinical Research Center at the Renaissance School of Medicine.

Gonzalez, who was not involved in the study, further explained: “If you think of yourself as a battery of energy, we have experiences throughout the day that drain our energy and experiences that may also serve to charge us back up.”

We need daily recovery in order to avoid excessive wear and tear and burnout, according to Gonzalez.

To arrive at their conclusions, the team of scientists based their analysis on diary entries from 124 employees throughout a time period of 887 days.

About two-thirds of the respondents were women and their median age was between 36 and 40 years. Ages ranged from 21 to 65. About two-thirds were college educated.

The study participants reported that their jobs had a medium-level workload and a relatively high level of complexity, autonomy, and team-member exchange.

They additionally said that they experienced relatively low levels of chronic exhaustion, medium levels of job involvement, and high levels of work-related self-efficacy.

During the study, workers were asked to fill out daily surveys just prior to beginning their work, at two-hour intervals throughout the day, and after their workday had ended. These surveys assessed such things as mood, sleep quality, recovery, work events, and work breaks.

According to Gonzalez, what the team then looked at was the relationship between recovery and people’s moods the next day.

“The findings indicated that that psychological detachment was indirectly related to the next day wakefulness, calmness, and pleasantness via sleep quality — meaning that detaching from work was linked to better sleep quality and sleep quality was related to positive mood states,” said Gonzalez.

He further noted that mastery of experiences and control was directly related to calmness.

“The results underscore the importance of getting quality sleep; the ability to psychologically detach from work to help with getting quality sleep; and experiencing relaxation,” said Gonzalez.

Dr. Mo Janson, a general practitioner and medical content creator for who was not involved in the research, said that, based on the findings of this study, people can best prioritize their recovery after their workday ends by focusing on activities that promote psychological detachment, relaxation, mastery experiences, and a sense of control over their personal time.

“It is important,” said Janson, “to engage in activities that help mentally disconnect from work, such as engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or practicing mindfulness.”

“Additionally, engaging in relaxation techniques, accomplishing tasks that provide a sense of mastery, and having control over personal time can also contribute to effective recovery,” he said.

Gonzalez further advised that disconnecting from work could mean not checking or limiting how often you check emails after work.

This could also mean doing things that are fun for you, connecting with others socially, or doing activities that require your to focused attention (for example watching a good movie or reading a book.)

Gonzalez added that relaxation practices are also important.

“I encourage individuals to develop a daily relaxation practice, which might include engaging with mindfulness meditation exercises from 3-5 minutes to 15-20 minutes per day,” he said, noting that you can practice relaxation exercises any time of the day.

“I have found it helpful to practice relaxation before bed to aid in preparing the mind and body for a restful night of sleep,” he added.

If you can’t get quality recovery the day before, all is not lost, however.

Janson says there are still some strategies you can utilize to help improve your mood the next day.

“Based on the study, it may be helpful to incorporate relaxation techniques during the workday, such as brief moments of deep breathing, stretching, or mindfulness exercises,” he advised.

Another strategy you can employ is to seek out social interactions with your co-workers during breaks.

You can also do work-related tasks that help you feel a sense of mastery or control over your work, said Janson.

“Finally, individuals can try incorporating positive affirmations or visualization exercises to shift their mindset towards a more positive state, even in the absence of quality recovery,” he concluded.