Advances in Recovery Research: What Have We Learned? What Should Be Done Next?

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Abstract

Job-stress recovery during nonwork time is an important factor for employee well-being. This article reviews the recovery literature, starting with a brief historical overview. It provides a definition of recovery that differentiates between recovery as a process and recovery as an outcome. Empirical studies have shown that recovery activities (e.g., physical exercise) and recovery experiences (e.g., psychological detachment from work) are negatively associated with strain symptoms (e.g., exhaustion) and positively associated with positive well-being indicators (e.g., vigor). Recovery activities and recovery experiences suffer when employees face a high level of job stressors. Psychological mechanisms underlying recovery seem to be similar across different temporal recovery settings (e.g., work breaks, free evenings, vacations) and seem to be enhanced in natural environments. Intervention studies have pointed to a diverse set of strategies for how everyday job-stress recovery can be supported. This article discusses 5 avenues for future research, with a particular focus on individual and contextual factors that may influence recovery as well as highlighting more complex temporal patterns than those uncovered in previous research.

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