DAILY RECOVERY FROM
DURING NON-WORK TIME
Evangelia Demerouti, Arnold B. Bakker,
Sabine A. E. Geurts and Toon W. Taris
The aim of this chapter is to provide a literature review on daily recovery
during non-work time. Speciﬁcally, next to discussing theories that help us
understand the process of recovery, we will clarify how recovery and its
potential outcomes have been conceptualized so far. Consequently, we
present empirical ﬁndings of diary studies addressing the activities that
may facilitate or hinder daily recovery. We will pay special attention to
potential mechanisms that may underlie the facilitating or hindering
processes. Owing to the limited research on daily recovery, we will review
empirical ﬁndings on predictors and outcomes of a related construct,
namely need for recovery. We conclude with an overall framework from
which daily recovery during non-work time can be understood. In this
framework, we claim that daily recovery is an important moderator in the
process through which job characteristics and their related strain may
lead to unfavorable states on a daily basis.
Current Perspectives on Job-Stress Recovery
Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 7, 85–123
Copyright r2009 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved
Job demands have shown a tendency to increase, to such a degree that
work-related stress and burnout have become a serious and pervasive
problem in many countries. Whereas there is a considerable literature on
the consequences of high demands within the workplace (among others,
Bakker & Demerouti, 2007;Lee & Ashforth, 1996), there has been less
emphasis on the role of recovery from the associated strain during non-work
time. In particular, few studies have examined the signiﬁcance of
different types of behavior during non-work time and its relative
contribution to recovery from work strain. This is surprising because, all
other things being equal, it is plausible that a worker who is well (versus
poorly) recovered from a previous work period is more likely to be engaged
with work in a subsequent work period, with presumed beneﬁts in
improving employee performance at work (Bakker, 2009;Demerouti &
In this chapter, we argue that adequate recovery on a daily basis is crucial
for the maintenance of well-being and job performance. Recovery may
occur in the context of work and non-work (Geurts & Sonnentag, 2006).
The ﬁrst is referred to as internal recovery and occurs during short breaks
from work. The second is called external recovery and may occur during
after-work hours, during weekends, and during longer periods of respite like
vacation. In the present chapter, we focus speciﬁcally on external recovery.
Although many European employees have long recovery time during
vacations, it seems that daily recovery is more crucial for health and well-
being. The point is that the salutary effects of vacations fade out quickly
(De Bloom et al., 2009). Speciﬁcally, levels of burnout and well-being have
been found to return rapidly to prevacation levels after returning to work
(Westman & Eden, 1997;Westman & Etzion, 2001). Therefore, recovery
that takes place daily after work or during the weekend may well be more
important for protecting well-being and performance (Sonnentag, 2001,
The goal of this chapter is to provide insight in the process of daily
recovery by discussing (i) theories that help us understand the process of re-
covery, (ii) the concept of recovery and its potential outcomes, (iii) empirical
studies addressing activities that may facilitate or hinder daily recovery,
(iv) potential mechanisms that may underlie the facilitating or hindering
processes, and (v) empirical ﬁndings on predictors and outcomes of need
for recovery. We conclude with an overall framework from which daily
recovery during non-work time can be understood.
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.86
It has been well-established that unfavorable work situations adversely affect
individuals’ health and well-being. Particularly work situations characterized
by high job demands and low job resources (e.g., low job control) are
associated with the development of physical and psychological health
complaints across time (for reviews, see Belkic, Landsbergis, Schnall, &
Baker, 2004;De Lange, Taris, Kompier, Houtman, & Bongers, 2003). In the
linkage between exposure to unfavorable work situations and adverse health
and well-being, stress-related physiology seems to play a crucial mediating role
(Geurts & Sonnentag, 2006). In principle, stress-related physiological
activation in response to job stressors is reversible and short-lived, and is,
therefore, not harmful for employee health. However, when stress-related
activation occurs repeatedly or prolongs during potential recovery time,
relationships with serious disease (e.g., hypertension) across time and overall
mortality have been demonstrated (among others, Stewart, Janicki, &
Kamarack, 2006). Unfortunately, our knowledge about how to undo these
negative ‘‘short-term’’ effects in order to prevent negative long-term con-
sequences is still limited. Geurts and Sonnentag (2006) recently argued that
recovery may help to explain how stressfull working conditions and the related
acute load reactions of employees may impair their health in the long run.
Later, we brieﬂy discuss three models that may explain the role of recovery.
The crucial role of incomplete recovery from stress can be understood from
the perspective of Effort-Recovery theory (E-R theory, Meijman & Mulder,
1998). Its core assumption is that effort expenditure at work is unavoidably
associated with, in principle adaptive, acute load reactions (e.g., accelerated
heart rate, elevated blood pressure levels, and fatigue). Effort is mobilized
by activation of the Sympathetic–Adrenal–Medullary (SAM) system which
– by secretion of catecholamines (adrenalin and noradrenalin) – regulates
cardiovascular activity (i.e., sympathetic activation). Under very stressful
circumstances, the Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal (HPA) system with the
‘‘stress hormone’’ cortisol as its main actor, may be activated as well in
order to mobilize supplementary effort needed to deal with the stressful
situation (Clow, 2001). Under optimal circumstances, the stress-related
acute load reactions return to prestressor levels during after-work hours,
and recovery is completed before the next working period starts. In this
situation health is not at risk. However, when the stress-related acute load
Daily Recovery 87
reactions prolong or re-occur during after-work hours (i.e., sustained
sympathetic activation), recovery is incomplete (Geurts & Sonnentag, 2006).
As a consequence, the worker will start the next working period while being
in a suboptimal condition, and will have to invest compensatory effort in
order to perform adequately at work. The resulting increased intensity of
load reactions will in turn initiate an even higher demand on the subsequent
recovery process, and thus result in an accumulative process developing into
chronic load reactions (or ‘‘allostatic load’’ according to McEwen’s (1998)
allostatic load theory), such as chronically elevated heart rate, hypertension,
chronic fatigue, and persistent sleep problems (Sluiter, Frings-Dresen,
Van der Beek, & Meijman, 2001).
An important question is under what circumstances the crucial process of
daily recovery is hampered by prolongation or re-occurrence of stress-
related acute load reactions during after-work hours. One condition is the
prolonged exposure to work demands or the new exposure to effortful
demands. According to Geurts and Sonnentag (2006), particularly the
prolonged exposure to work demands (e.g., daily overtime work) is a risk
factor as a demand is made on the same psycho-physiological systems that
were already activated on the job. Particularly these systems should unwind
and return to their baseline levels. In addition, the continued exposure to
stressful demands (irrespective of being work-related or not) is a serious risk
because of the high sympathetic (cardiovascular) activation associated with
the stress exposure. From the perspective of recovery after work, it seems
important that people engage in activities that appeal to other systems than
already used during work, and that are not (again) stressful. Another
condition that hampers the quality of recovery after work is the difﬁculty to
psychologically detach from job stressors. Even when people are not
exposed to (new) stressful demands after work, cognitive processes may be
responsible for the prolongation or reactivation of stress-related physiolo-
gical activation, such as rumination about past stressors and anticipation of
future stressors, a phenomenon referred to as ‘‘perseverative cognition’’
(Brosschot, Pieper, & Thayer, 2005).
Conservation of Resources Theory
A second theory that may be helpful to describe how people may act during
after-work hours in order to recover from stressful work is Conservation of
Resources (COR) theory (Hobfoll, 1998, 2002). Its core assumption is that
people strive to obtain, retain, protect, and build resources that are
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.88
important to them, and that stress develops when valued resources are
threatened, lost, or not gained after having invested in them. Resources refer
here to a heterogeneous category including personal characteristics (e.g., self-
esteem), object resources (e.g., clothing), condition resources (e.g., a good
marriage), and energy resources (e.g., the level of vigor) that are either valued
in themselves, or that serve as a means of obtaining other valued resources.
Since resources such as self-esteem and vigor may be lost or threatened in an
unfavorable work situation, employees will attempt to restore their resources
during after-work hours. This can be realized, for instance, by engaging in
leisure activities that may reﬁll their batteries (energy) or will contribute to
their self-esteem. After discussing the concept of recovery (third section), we
discuss activities and experiences (ﬁfth section) during after-work hours that
may hamper or facilitate the recovery process.
Bakker, Van Emmerik, Geurts, and Demerouti (2008) conducted a diary
study to test the predictions of the E-R and COR theories. Speciﬁcally, they
investigated the role of daily recovery in the relationship between daily job
demands, work engagement, and performance. Data were collected among
53 fulltime working assembly line employees through daily surveys over two
consecutive working weeks (10 working days) that were interrupted by a two-
day weekend period. Recovery was assessed in the morning before
participants went to work. Job demands, work engagement, and perfor-
mance were assessed immediately after work. Results revealed that daily
work engagement is a function of recovery in-between working days, and
that daily work engagement, in turn, is a predictor of daily performance.
Additionally, results suggest that recovery turns job demands into challenges:
only if employees recovered sufﬁciently in-between work periods, daily job
demands were positively related to work engagement. Thus, recovery
moderated the relationship between job demands and work engagement.
This study nicely illustrates the principles of E-R and COR theories, and
emphasizes the importance of recovery for work engagement and
performance, on a day-to-day basis. High effort expended at work is not
damaging for health or well-being as long as employees have the opportunity
to recover from load effects built up during the working day (see also Geurts
& Sonnentag, 2006;Totterdell, Spelten, Smith, Barton, & Folkard, 1995).
Allostatic Load Model
In ergonomics, cardiovascular parameters have been introduced to evaluate
the consequences of having been exposed to workload and strain (e.g.,
Daily Recovery 89
Luczak, 1987;Schnall, Schwartz, Landsbergis, Warren, & Pickering, 1992;
Theorell, Ahlberg-Hulten, Jodko, Sigala, & Torre, 1993;Theorell et al.,
1991). To use cardiovascular parameters as an indicator of health, both the
situation of exposure to workload and the process of recovery after
exposure to workload should be taken into account. The process of recovery
can be considered as an indicator of good health. An indication of good
health is when a person can recover completely from workload within the
timeframe between two working days (Rau, 2004). This deﬁnition is
supported by the model of allostasis and allostatic load (McEwen, 1998;
Sterling & Eyer, 1988). Allostasis describes the process of how the
physiological system adjusts from one level of activation to the other,
including the change from activity to rest (Sterling, 2004). The physiological
system is continuously changing in order to adapt to the change in
circumstances. Through this continuous change, the system tries to achieve
a level of stability. A healthy response of an allostatic system (such as
the central and vegetative nervous system, the endocrine and immune
system, the cardiovascular system etc.) to exposure of load consists of three
steps (a) initiate a response to adapt to the current demanding situation,
(b) sustaining this response reaction until the demanding situation comes to
an end and the load ends, and (c) shutting off the response after the demand
is no longer imposed on the system. The system will then enter a state of
rest (McEwen, 1998). For example, an adaptive response to workload could
be an increase in heart rate and blood pressure for the duration of the
demanding situation. Once the demands are gone and the person no longer
faces the workload, heart rate and blood pressure must be reset, i.e., enter
a state of rest (Pickering, 1997). However, allostatic load situations occur
when the initial adaptive response fails to be shut off after the load has gone
(e.g., blood pressure remains elevated up to the late night). Allostatic load
is thus considered to be a pathophysiological outcome (McEwen, 1998;
Sterling & Eyer, 1988).
HOW IS RECOVERY CONCEPTUALIZED?
Recovery has been deﬁned in several ways, but most deﬁnitions have in
common that recovery occurs after strain when the stressor is no longer
present (Sonnentag & Geurts, this volume). It represents the process
that repairs the negative strain effects. More speciﬁcally, recovery refers to
the process during which an individual’s functioning returns to its pre-
stressor level and in which strain is reduced (Sonnentag & Natter, 2004).
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.90
Put differently, recovery refers to activities that might reduce fatigue to
restore a status of physiological and psychological performance readiness.
One way in which recovery has been captured empirically is to ask partici-
pants to report their level of recovery before starting to work (Sonnentag,
2003). In this research tradition, participants respond to items like ‘‘because
of the leisure activities pursued yesterday, I feel recovered/relaxed/in a good
mood.’’ This operationalization of recovery has been successful in predicting
work engagement, personal initiative, and pursuit of learning as reported
later that day.
Sonnentag and Natter (2004) used a more speciﬁc way to capture the
recovery experience. Recovery experience refers to the degree to which
the individual perceives that the activities he/she pursues during non-work
time helps him/her to restore energy resources (Sonnentag & Natter, 2004).
Participants had to indicate next to the amount of time they spent one
speciﬁc evening on off-job time activities, also the degree to which they
felt recovered after having performed these activities. In this respect,
recovery experiences indicate the strategies that people use to avoid negative
effects of stressful situations (Sonnentag & Fritz, 2007). The advantage of
this method is that it refers to the recovery effect of each activity separately,
providing rich information about what activities potentially enhance
recovery. Moreover, these speciﬁc (versus global) reports on recovery are
provided the same evening as the activity was carried out. Therefore,
recalling errors are minimized. However, what is still missing is information
Yet another way to operationalize recovery is to use self-report measures
of fatigue as a proxy (Rook & Zijlstra, 2006; Sonnentag & Geurts, this
volume). The assumption is that elevated levels of fatigue can be used to
identify individuals who have failed to recover from the short-term effects
of a workday. Therefore, also reductions in the level of fatigue may indicate
recovery. Because subjective experiences of fatigue are believed to encompass
a strong motivational component rather than feelings of physical fatigue
(Meijman, 1991;Rook & Zijlstra, 2006), it is questionable whether such
measures really capture the unwinding component and the replenishing of
resources which is crucial for recovery. Moreover, fatigue and lack of
recovery are related but not identical constructs. According to Sonnentag
and Zijlstra (2006), ‘‘fatigue is a state that results from being active in order
to deal with the work demands, and recovery is the process of replenishing
depleted resources or rebalancing suboptimal systems’’ (p. 331). Thus,
fatigue is more a consequence of lack of recovery, rather than a concept
referring to the recovery process or problems within the recovery process.
Daily Recovery 91
When fatigue builds up people feel a sense of urgency to take a break
from the demands. This sense of urgency is called need for recovery
(Sonnentag & Zijlstra, 2006) and has also been used as an indicator of
(in)sufﬁcient recovery. Need for recovery is an emotional state characterized
by a reluctance to continue the present demands or to accept new demands.
Owing to conceptual similarity with fatigue and psychological distress
researchers have tried to show that need for recovery is something different
than these other established constructs. The study of Jansen, Kant, and van
den Brandt (2002) on a large Dutch population (NW12,000) showed that
although need for recovery, fatigue, and psychological distress were
frequently co-morbid, they also clearly occurred as separate entities.
Poor recovery may also manifest itself in elevated levels of neuroendo-
crine activity during non-work time, such as elevated levels of catechola-
mines (adrenaline and noradrenaline) and cortisol during after-work hours
(Sonnentag & Geurts, this volume). A recent systematic literature review
(Sonnentag & Fritz, 2006) has shown that after highly intensiﬁed work
periods, catecholamine levels remain elevated, indicating poor physiological
recovery. For instance, in a classic ﬁeld experiment among driving
examiners with varying degrees of workload, elevated adrenaline levels
persisted during after-work hours on workdays with intensive workload,
whereas on workdays with relatively low or medium workload, adrenaline
levels returned to predemand levels within a few off-job hours (Meijman,
Mulder, van Dormolen, & Cremer, 1992). As these neuroendocrine
hormones initiate sympathetic activation, elevated cardiovascular activation
(accelerated heart rate and elevated blood pressure levels) after exposure
to job stressors may also be used as indicators of poor physiological
recovery after work. For instance, in an experimental study, Glynn,
Christenfeld, and Gerin (2002) provided evidence for poor cardiovascular
recovery (i.e., delayed blood pressure recovery) after exposure to an
In a recent study among couples, Saxbe, Repetti, and Nishina (2008)
examined after-work recovery, by exploring associations between self-
reported daily work stress and evening cortisol levels. Participants sampled
saliva four times per day during three days. Wives who had less satisfying
marriages excreted higher evening cortisol at home following days with
higher than usual afternoon cortisol, but this continuation of elevated
cortisol from work to home was not observed in women with higher levels of
marital satisfaction. For both men and women, evening cortisol was lower
than usual on higher-workload days, and marital satisfaction augmented
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.92
this association among women. Men showed higher evening cortisol after
more distressing social experiences at work, an association that was
strongest among men with higher marital satisfaction.
OUTCOMES OF (LACK OF) RECOVERY
As indicated above, recovery refers to the process during which an
individual’s functioning returns to its prestressor level and in which strain
is reduced. Several studies have examined the outcomes of (lack of) recovery
on a day-to-day basis, comparing levels of recovery indicators at a later
point in time (typically before going to bed or after waking up in the
morning) to scores on the same variables at an earlier point in time (e.g.,
after waking up in the morning or the previous day, before going to bed).
In this section, we provide a short overview of these studies and discuss
their main ﬁndings in relation to the type of outcome studied. Our aim is to
(i) emphasize the importance of recovery in predicting valuable outcomes
for organizations, individuals, and families, and (ii) show the differences
between recovery processes and outcomes that seem conceptual similar to
recovery (e.g., fatigue).
Study selection. As a ﬁrst step, we conducted an automated search in the
PsycInfo and MedLine databases. We searched for entries that met the
criterion that the abstract or title of papers include the following terms:
(i) either ‘‘Day,’’ ‘‘Diary,’’ or ‘‘Daily,’’ in combination with (ii) ‘‘recovery’’
or ‘‘fatigue’’ and (iii) either ‘‘work,’’ ‘‘worker(s),’’ ‘‘working,’’ ‘‘employed,’’ or
‘‘employment.’’ In this way, we aimed to retrieve studies that studied daily
recovery in a work context. This search returned 388 potentially relevant
The abstract of these 388 studies were examined by one of the authors for
relevance. Oftentimes, the abstract revealed that studies were irrelevant, for
example, that they did not study recovery in the work context or on a day-
to-day basis, or because the antecedents, rather than the consequences of
recovery were studied. Further, studies had to present original empirical
evidence on the relationship between recovery and outcomes thereof.
Review papers and conceptual papers were excluded. In all, 35 studies were
retained. These studies were read in detail by one of the authors, after which
six studies remained. This number is fairly small, but our inclusion criteria
were rather narrow, explicitly focusing on research that considered research
Daily Recovery 93
that examined the consequences of recovery or lack thereof. This means that
research examining the same consequences within related but different
theoretical frameworks (e.g., research on the effects of working overtime,
shift work, or sleep deprivation) was not included.
Description of studies. Table 1 presents descriptive information on the
studies included in our overview. As regards the samples used, these were
usually small, ranging from 19 to 166. This may be due to the fact that data
collection was quite demanding: all six studies employed some form of diary
design, in which participants completed diaries at several occasions during
the study. The studies covered up to ﬁve consecutive work days (usually a
As regards the recovery indicators included in these studies, ﬁve of these
(Studies 2–6) focused on the activities conducted after work and before
going to bed, e.g., in the form of the time spent on these activities, the
subjective experience of these activities, or the degree to which one felt
recovered due to doing these activities. Study 5 included a measure of sleep
quality, whereas Study 1 considered the length of the layover time between
two consecutive ﬂights among airline pilots; what these pilots did during this
time was not recorded in detail (it seems likely that they will have spent at
least part of this time sleeping). In fourth section, we discuss these activities
in more detail, in relation to the outcomes thereof.
The outcomes considered in the six studies vary considerably, and may be
roughly classiﬁed as either covering motivation and performance, or health
and well-being. All outcomes were measured after a period of recovery, e.g.,
before going to bed (Studies 2, 4, 6), after a night’s sleep (Studies 3 and 5), or
after a period of inactivity in-between two work shifts (Study 1). As regards
motivation and performance, one study (Study 1) focused on an objective
performance measure, namely response time during playing a game on a
hand-held computer. All other recovery outcomes were measured through
self-reports. Study 3 examined personal initiative and pursuit of learning as
recovery outcomes. With respect to health and well-being, fatigue and mood
were relatively often examined (fatigue: Studies 4–6; mood: Studies 2–5).
Two other studies examined one dimension of engagement: Studies 3 and 6
(both focusing on vigor, i.e., energy – this concept may be considered an
alternative way of tapping fatigue as well). Finally, Study 6 employed
feelings of depression as the focal variable. All in all, it seems that subjective
well-being (especially mood and fatigue) has relatively often been examined
in diary research on the effects of recovery, whereas especially studies
examining performance are rare.
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.94
Table 1. Description of Studies on the Effects of Day-to-Day Recovery.
Study Sample Design Recovery Indicator Recovery Outcome
(1) Lamont, Dawson,
Layover time between ﬂights
vigilance task: response time
(2) Sonnentag (2001) 100 teachers Diary study
(5 consecutive work
Evening activities: work-
related, household chores,
low-effort, social, physical
Well-being before going to
sleep: feeling tense, mood
(3) Sonnentag (2003) 147 employees of
(5 consecutive work
Feelings of being recovered due
to leisure activities
Work engagement, personal
initiative, pursuit of learning
(4) Sonnentag and
87 workers, various
(3 consecutive work
during ﬁve evening activities:
chores, low-effort, social,
Well-being before going to
sleep: fatigue, mood
(5 consecutive work
Morning affect: (i) positive
effect, (ii) negative effect,
(iii) serenity, (iv) fatigueMastery experiences, sleep
(6) Sonnentag and
47 ﬂight attendants Diary study
(4 work days)
Time spent on ﬁve activities
before going to bed: work-
related, household chores,
low-effort, social, physical;
Well-being before going to
sleep: vigor, depression,
Feelings of recovery
Daily Recovery 95
ACTIVITIES DURING RECOVERY
Activities with a Potential for Recovery
Basically, the present chapter assumes that what one does after work may
affect the degree to which one recovers from the effort expended at work.
On the basis of the work of Sonnentag and colleagues (e.g., Sonnentag,
2001;Sonnentag & Bayer, 2005), we distinguish among activities promoting
(see section ‘‘Activities with a potential for recovery’’) and activities
impeding recovery (see section ‘‘Activities potentially inhibiting recovery’’).
Table 2 presents the ﬁndings of the six studies discussed in the previous
section. These are discussed hereafter.
Table 2. Findings of Studies on the Effects of Day-to-Day Recovery.
Study Recovery Indicator Effects
(1) Lamont et al. (2006) Layover time between ﬂights
Response time ()
(2) Sonnentag (2001) Work-related activities Well-being ()
Low-effort, social, physical
(3) Sonnentag (2003) Feelings of being recovered due
to various activities
Engagement (þ), personal
initiative (þ), pursuit of
(4) Sonnentag and
during social activities
during physical activities
Mood (þ), fatigue ()
Mood (þ), fatigue ()
(5) Sonnentag et al.
Sleep quality Positive activation (þ), serenity
(þ), negative activation (),
Feelings of mastery Positive activation (þ)
Relaxation Serenity (þ)
Psychological detachment Negative activation (),
morning fatigue ()
(6) Sonnentag and
Feelings of recovery Vigor (þ), depression (),
Time spent on social activities Depression (þ)
Time spent on physical activities Vigor (þ), depression ()
Note: ‘‘þ’’ denotes a positive effect (more of A is associated with more of B); ‘‘’’ denotes a
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.96
Studies on daily recovery have consistently ignored the role of sleep as an
activity important for recovery in its own right. Because sleep has a
restorative function and maintains performance (Campbell, 1992;Horne,
2001), it is necessary to consider sleep in the phenomenon of daily recovery.
Research by Zijlstra and de Vries (2000) has indicated that sleep is
important for recovery. Van Hooff, Geurts, Kompier, and Taris (2007)
found among faculty members that those who invested much effort in their
work during work hours did not differ in sleep time from those expending
less effort on work, but reported more sleep complaints during the
workweek, indicating poor recovery. Individuals with high levels of fatigue
typically have fewer hours of sleep and require extra effort to conduct their
work in comparison to individuals with low levels of fatigue. Moreover,
there is strong evidence that cognitive arousal at bedtime is associated with
increased sleep disturbance. For instance, Cropley, Dijk, and Stanley (2006)
found that ruminating about work issues in the hour preceding bedtime was
associated with greater sleep disturbance.
Adults need on average 7–9 h sleep per night, whereas children need about
9–10 h per night (Carskadon & Dement, 2005). Several studies have shown
that a day nap of 15–20min is very beneﬁcial for recovery (Takahashi,
Fukuda, & Arito, 1998). However, too much or too little sleep can affect
performance in a negative way. Moreover, not only the quantity but also the
quality of sleep is important for recovery and performance (e.g., Craig &
Cooper, 1992). It has been shown that deep sleep (75–80%) has a positive
inﬂuence on growth and repair, whereas rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
(20–25%) has a neutral function. These impressions are conﬁrmed by the
ﬁndings presented in Table 2.Lamont et al. (2006; Study 2) reported that
layover time between ﬂights positively affected the performance (i.e., response
time on a computer game) of ﬂight attendants, whereas Sonnentag et al.
(2008; Study 6) found that sleep quality was positively associated with mood
(positive affect, serenity) and negatively with negative effect and fatigue.
Low-effort activities represent passive activities that by deﬁnition require
hardly any effort on the part of the individual and therefore pose no
demands on the psychobiological system (Sonnentag, 2001;Sonnentag &
Natter, 2004). Examples of such activities are watching television, listening
to music, or just relaxing on the sofa and doing nothing (Kleiber, Larson, &
Csikszentmihalyi, 1986). These activities have a recovery function because
they do not occupy resources that are normally required to accomplish work
Daily Recovery 97
tasks (Sonnentag, 2001). Consequently, psychobiological systems will return
to their normal prestressor state (Meijman & Mulder, 1998). Although it
seems plausible that low-effort activities will have a recovery effect, some
authors have doubted such an effect. Accordingly, low-effort activities mean
that people spend their time in passive leisure activities and passive activities
are detrimental for well-being because they are related to free-time boredom
and apathy (cf. Iso-Ahola, 1997). However, according to Sonnentag (2001),
such a relationship between passive leisure activities and poor well-being
might be a spurious one that can be explained by third variables. One such a
third variable could be the work environment, for example, a job with low
demands and low autonomy (or passive jobs in terms of Karasek (1998)).
Empirical ﬁndings regarding the effect of low-effort activities on daily
recovery and well-being have been mixed (cf. Table 2). Consistent with the
predictions of the effort-recovery model, Sonnentag (2001) found that time
spent on low-effort activities was favorably related to well-being at bedtime
among teachers. However, Sonnentag and Natter (2004) found that low-
effort activities had no effect on well-being (operationalized as recovery
experience, fatigue, vigor, and depression) during bedtime among ﬂight
attendants. In a similar vein, Rook and Zijlstra (2006) showed that low-
effort activities had little or no effect on recovery.
A related category of activities are those that enhance relaxation (Sonnentag
& Fritz, 2007). Relaxation can also be viewed as a state which is
characterized by positive affect and low activation. In the present section,
however, we review activities that may lead to relaxation rather than the
state of relaxation. Examples of such relaxation activities are meditation
(Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004), yoga (Oken et al., 2004),
listening to music (Pelletier, 2004), taking a walk in a natural environment
(Hartig, Evans, Jamner, Davis, & Ga
¨rling, 2003), taking a long-hot bath
(Bourne, 2000), progressive muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises
(Calder, 2003a, 2003b). These activities have in common that they are not
demanding and do not require any kind of effort from the individual.
However, the individual is actively involved in a pleasurable activity. The
role that relaxation plays to increase recovery is according to Sonnentag and
Fritz (2007) two-fold. First, because relaxation experiences reduce psycho-
physiological activation, sustained activation is inhibited, and the psycho-
biological system can return to the prestressor state. This helps that the
stressor does not translate into illnesses. Second, the fact that the relaxation
activities are pleasurable and can increase positive effects has also favorable
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.98
effects on the individual’s well-being. According to Fredrickson (2001), positive
emotions help individuals to build resources including energy which they can
use in the future to minimize the inﬂuence of negative emotions and stress.
There is indeed some evidence for the recovery function of relaxation
(Table 2), although the relationship between relaxation and recovery has
been more extensively studied among athletes (Calder, 2003a, 2003b). In the
study of Sonnentag and Fritz (2007), relaxation was negatively correlated
with health complaints, exhaustion, sleep problems, and need for recovery,
and positively correlated with life satisfaction. Furthermore, in their seven-
day diary study among workers from an Australian supermarket, Garrick,
Winwood, and Bakker (2008) found that previous day meditation/prayer
increased sleep quality and inter-shift recovery. Moreover, they found that
daily recovery mediated the relationship between meditation/prayer and
acute fatigue. This means that meditation and prayer had a favorable
impact on recovery. Finally, Sonnentag et al. (2008) reported that relaxation
had a positive effect on mood (speciﬁcally, serenity).
Social activities refer to activities that focus on social contact including
going to a party, dining, or phoning other people (Sonnentag, 2001). During
such activities people meet and spend time with others that they like such as
family members, friends, or other individuals or groups (Fritz & Sonnentag,
2005;Sonnentag, 2001). Sonnentag (2001) proposes two mechanisms
through which social activities can have a recovery function. The ﬁrst
possible function of social activities is that by meeting other people we open
channels of social support. Social support has been found to reduce the
negative inﬂuence of job demands on well-being (e.g., Bakker, Demerouti, &
Euwema, 2005). The second possible function is that social activities draw
on different resources than those necessary for work-related tasks.
Consequently, recovery processes can take place. Note that there is a
difference between the social contact we have when employed in human
service occupations and the social contacts during leisure time. Work-
related social interactions, e.g., with customers, often require emotion
regulation or ‘‘emotion work’’ (Zapf, 2002). Emotion regulation is an
effortful process in which employees have to show emotions that do not feel
but that are according to the rules of the organization. That kind of emotion
regulation may not be necessary for social interactions during leisure time
There is some evidence that engagement in social activities has a beneﬁcial
effect on recovery (Table 2). Sonnentag and Zijlstra (2006) found in their
Daily Recovery 99
dairy study that social activities were positively related to well-being at
bedtime and negatively related to need for recovery. In contrast, the study of
Sonnentag and Bayer (2005) found that social activities were unrelated to
positive mood as well as to fatigue at bedtime. Moreover, Sonnentag and
Natter (2004) found that involvement in social activities was related to
higher feelings of depression at bedtime. An explanation that these authors
offered is that social activities might include deliberate preoccupation with
job-related thoughts as is the case when meeting friends and talking with
them about work. Another possible explanation could be that social
activities are relaxing for some people but not for everybody. For instance,
extraverts might proﬁt more from social activities in terms of unwinding
than introverts (Trougakos & Hideg, this volume).
Physical activities refer to behaviors including exercise, physical training,
sports etc. Physical exercise is important to maintain ﬁtness and is found to
contribute to physical and mental health (McAuley, Kramer, & Colcombe,
2004). It seems a paradox to claim that physical activity during leisure time
can promote recovery. Both physiological and psychological explanations
have been suggested to account for the recovery enhancing effects of exercise
(Sonnentag, 2001;Yeung, 1996). Of the physiological mechanisms, most
attention has been given to the action of endorphins within the central
nervous system. Numerous studies have shown that levels of endorphins are
elevated following exercise (Grossman et al., 1984), but attempts to relate
endorphin levels to positive mood changes have generally failed – probably
due to methodological problems of these studies (Thoren, Floras, Hoffman,
& Seals, 1990). A second physiological explanation is the thermogenic
hypothesis of exercise suggesting that an elevation of body temperature is
responsible for subjectively increased mood following exercise (Raglin &
Morgan, 1985). The monoamine hypothesis is a third physiological
explanation referring to the enhanced secretion of noradrenalin, serotonin,
and dopamine that have an antidepressant effect (for an overview, see Cox,
2002). Next to these physiological mechanisms, the distraction hypothesis
asserts that it is not the exercise as such that enhances mood and recovery,
but rather the respite or ‘‘time out’’ that it provides from worrisome
thoughts and daily stressors (Raglin & Morgan, 1985;Yeung, 1996).
Finally, the completion of an important and effortful task (including
exercise) brings about a sense of mastery or achievement and self-efﬁcacy
beliefs, thereby enhancing positive mood and well-being.
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.100
As Table 2 shows, there is consistent evidence supporting that well-being
at bedtime is improved on days when individuals spend time on physical
activities (Sonnentag, 2001;Sonnentag & Bayer, 2003;Sonnentag & Natter,
2004). More speciﬁcally, physical activities have a positive effect on vigor
and mood, and a negative effect on depression. However, physical activities
were unrelated to fatigue experienced at bedtime in each of these studies.
This can be explained by the fact that physical activities increase physical
fatigue, which may mask the positive effects on other aspects of fatigue
(Sonnentag & Natter, 2004).
Hobbies, or creative activity, have received very little research in the ﬁeld of
work fatigue and recovery, but initial studies suggest that they can have an
important restorative function. Hobbies provide opportunities for personal
fulﬁllment, skills acquisition, and emotionally rewarding ‘‘mastery’’
experiences. In addition, these activities arguably stimulate the pleasure/
reward brain center (Winwood, Bakker, & Wineﬁeld, 2007). We could
locate only two studies that examined the relationship between hobbies and
recovery. In their study among a heterogeneous sample of workers,
Winwood et al. (2007) found that employees reporting higher levels of
creative (hobby) activity reported signiﬁcantly better sleep, recovery
between work periods, and lower chronic maladaptive fatigue. In addition,
in their diary study, Garrick et al. (2008) found that engagement in hobbies
increased recovery, which in turn had a positive effect on next days’ work
Psychological Experiences with a Potential for Recovery
In this section, we review two psychological experiences that can enhance
recovery, namely psychological detachment from work and humor. These
do not represent activities per se but are merely ways of thinking that, as we
will see in the review, facilitate daily recovery.
Psychological detachment is used to describe individual’s sense of being
away from work (Etzion, Eden, & Lapidot, 1998). Detachment implies more
than just being away from work physically. In contrast to the activities
mentioned in the previous section, psychological detachment does not
represent an activity but is psychological in nature. It suggests that the
Daily Recovery 101
individual stops thinking about work and disengages his/herself mentally
from work (Sonnentag & Bayer, 2005;Sonnentag & Fritz, 2007;Sonnentag
& Kruel, 2006). Further, it suggests that the individual switches off from
work-related matters and problems but also from positive aspects of work.
Thus, just being physically away from work is not sufﬁcient to experience
psychological detachment. The underlying mechanisms that explain why
psychological detachment helps to recover has to do with whether resources
that people use when they are active at work are still occupied while at
home. When individuals do not detach and thus think about their work
issues during non-work time (negative or positive), they are cognitively
aroused (cf. Cropley et al., 2006). Therefore, the functional systems that are
activated during work are still activated during non-work time in this way
inhibiting the recovery process. In contrast, when individuals detach
psychologically from their work, no further functional demands tax their
psychobiological system (Sonnentag & Fritz, 2007).
The results of diary studies (Table 2) suggest that individuals who
experienced psychological detachment from work during leisure time
reported better mood, less negative effect, and less fatigue at the end of
the evening and in the next morning (Sonnentag & Bayer, 2005;Sonnentag
et al., 2008) and had more sleep disturbances (Cropley et al., 2006). It is
important to note that psychological detachment is particularly useful after
stressful and demanding working days (Sonnentag & Bayer, 2005). During
such days, individuals might continue working at home, might continue
thinking about the tasks that remained unﬁnished, or they might anticipate
the workload of the next day. Thus, it appears that experiences on the job
and the nature of job-related cognitions when being off work determines the
level of recovery and recovery-related outcomes.
It has been demonstrated that humor states and associated laughter can
beneﬁt stress and coping, as well as various other health-related outcomes,
such as cardiac rehabilitation and pain threshold (Healy & McKay, 2000).
Hence, engagement in humorous activities outside of work can be expected
to result in decreased fatigue, increased recovery and higher subsequent
work engagement. This hypothesis was tested in the diary study of Garrick
et al. (2008). They found that time spent laughing or being engaged in
humor stimulating activities inducing laughter was signiﬁcantly related to
inter-shift recovery and sleep quality. However, laughing did not inﬂuence
next day’s levels of fatigue and work engagement.
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.102
Activities Potentially Inhibiting Recovery
The traditional work–rest cycle including 8 h work, 8 h time for personal
needs and free time, and 8 h sleep is based on the idea that the time between
two work periods is sufﬁcient to recover from work. Normally people feel
fatigued after work, but this fatigue is not a problem since it is reversible by
changing tasks or by stopping the fatigue-inducing activity (Meijman &
Mulder, 1998). If the psychobiological systems used during work are
activated during recovery time, a cumulative process involving prolonged
fatigue, sleep, and psychosomatic complaints may ensue (Rook & Zijlstra,
2006). Work-related activities refer not only to activities related to work but
also to other task-related activities similar to those conducted at work like
paying bills or arranging private bureaucracy. Such activities have an
compulsory character (they have to be done) and they draw on resources
similar to those already called on during working time (Sonnentag & Natter,
2004). Continuously drawing on the same resources during the evening can
empty the resource reservoir and increase strain. Therefore, work-related
activities carried out after work can impair recovery (e.g., overtime work;
for a review, see Taris, Beckers, Dahlgren, Geurts, & Tucker, 2007).
Sonnentag and Natter (2004) found in their diary study that time spent on
work-related activities resulted in somewhat lower levels of vigor and higher
levels of fatigue at bedtime, although the effects were marginal. Similarly,
Sonnentag and Zijlstra (2006) found that the time individuals devoted to
work-related activities during off-work time was positively related to their
need for recovery and negatively to their well-being during bedtime. As
Table 2 shows, Sonnentag (2001) reported similar ﬁndings.
Household and Child-Care Activities
Household and child-care activities normally draw on different resources
than those needed for work, except for occupations in the cleaning services
industry or child care (Sonnentag, 2001). Therefore, it could be assumed
that these activities offer the possibility to recover from work-related
demands. However, another aspect of household and child-care activities is
that they require physical and psychological effort and that they have an
obligatory character since most of these activities cannot be skipped or
postponed. Thus, while the nature of household and child-care activities
could facilitate recovery, their obligatory character inhibits recovery. This is
because people must accomplish these tasks and spend effort on them when
they are already fatigued after a working day.
Daily Recovery 103
The suggested detrimental effect of household and child-care activities
on recovery has however not been conﬁrmed empirically (cf. Table 2). Time
spent on household and child-care activities was unrelated to fatigue
and well-being at bedtime in the diary studies of Sonnentag (2001) and
Sonnentag and Bayer (2005). Similar ﬁndings were reported by Sonnentag
and Zijlstra (2006) as well as by Sonnentag and Natter (2004). Several
explanations have been provided for the zero effects of household and child-
care activities on the recovery process and outcomes. One explanation is
that these activities are always studied together making it difﬁcult to
separate their unique effect. For instance, it is conceivable that household
activities impede recovery and that child-care activities facilitate recovery.
Another explanation is that there might be individual differences suggesting
that some individuals experience these as positive and other individuals as
negative (Sonnentag, 2001). Rook and Zijlstra (2006) (who also found no
effect of such activities on subjective fatigue) suggest that because household
activities and in particular caring for children require active involvement
they help individuals to disengage from the daily strains at work. Therefore,
they might be even beneﬁcial for recovery.
FACTORS FACILITATING RECOVERY
Although work generally depletes the energy reserves of employees, it may
also contain aspects that minimize the detrimental effects of work. These
concern mainly job resources such as job control, feedback, and learning
opportunities. Why can such aspects at work help recovery when being at
home? This is well illustrated by Rau (2006), who examined the inﬂuence of
learning opportunities at work on recovery. Learning opportunities included
procedural and temporal degrees of freedom, decision authority, responsi-
bility, information about results and feedback. Note that these aspects were
measured independent of the job incumbent’s perception, by means of a
job analysis instrument ﬁlled in by an expert analyst. Moreover, recovery
was measured using physiological (blood pressure and heart rates) and
psychological (self-rated ability to relax) indicators. The ﬁndings of the 24-h
measures indicated that learning opportunities were favorably associated
with nocturnal recovery of heart rate and blood pressure but unrelated with
self-rated assessments of recovery. According to Rau (2006), the underlying
mechanism for these relationships is that jobs with learning opportunities
can be considered as intrinsically motivating and positively challenging for
employees (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). People in such jobs usually are highly
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.104
activated, but not stressed (Karasek, 1998;Taris & Kompier, 2005) – a state
that Dienstbier (1989) calls toughening. When employees have control over
their work, they can decide themselves how to deal with problems, and when
to stop working. Apparently this helps them to better switch off from work
(Cropley et al., 2006), and consequently to unwind.
This positive inﬂuence of in particular job control on recovery was
conﬁrmed in another diary study by Sonnentag and Zijlstra (2006). They
found that next to job demands, job control contributed to explaining
variance in need for recovery at bedtime – beyond the effect of negative
affectivity and the particularly strong effect of well-being when returning
home from work.
Everybody would agree that recovery mainly takes place after work when
people are at home. Therefore, it is ironical that we could ﬁnd no study that
examined factors from the home situation that can facilitate recovery. Our
expectation is that home resources like autonomy, social support, and
feedback will facilitate recovery just like job resources do. However, there is no
evidence to support this assumption. Future research should strive to provide
more insight into such factors. It should be noted here that in order to achieve
this, future research should improve the conceptualization and measurement
of the characteristics of the home domain (Geurts & Demerouti, 2003).
FACTORS INHIBITING RECOVERY
Every working day, employees are exposed to a certain amount of job
demands. These job demands (particularly workload) often vary from day to
day (Butler, Grzywacz, Bass, & Linney, 2005), and may determine our daily
mood or effect (Zohar, Tzischinski, & Epstein, 2003). Studies using a within-
person design have shown that periods of high workload coincide with
impaired well-being, suggesting a depletion of employees’ energy resources
during high workload periods (Teuchmann, Totterdell, & Parker, 1999;
Totterdell, Wood, & Wall, 2006).
The diary study by Sonnentag and Bayer (2005) suggests that with high
demands on a speciﬁc day the risk of not being able to relax and detach from
work increases. This result is in line with ﬁndings by Cropley and Purvis
(2003), who found in their diary study a positive relationship between
job demands and rumination, and by Appels (1997), who demonstrated
that high demands are related to inability to relax and to exhaustion. Also,
Daily Recovery 105
Rau (2006) found that job demands were related to disturbed ability to relax
at home although they were not related to blood pressure during night.
Another important work characteristic that inﬂuences daily recovery is
overtime.AsRau and Triemer (2004) argue, overtime acts as a stressor
because it increases the demands on employees attempting to maintain their
performance levels in the face of increasing fatigue. Additionally, employees
working longer hours are exposed to other sources of workplace stress
for a greater amount of time. Because working overtime implies that the
working day is prolonged, whereas the time left for recovery is curtailed,
a large proportion of overtime research has concentrated on poor recovery
(e.g., Van der Hulst & Geurts, 2001).
Rau and Triemer (2004) followed participants for 24 h with a computer-
ized diary and ambulant monitoring of blood pressure to test the relationship
between overtime and recovery. As expected, overtime impacted both the
organization of after-work activities and nocturnal recovery. Men and
women working overtime had less leisure time, and men also reported less
time for household, childcare etc. than those working regular hours.
Although those working overtime had higher systolic and diastolic blood
pressure during work than those working regular times, it was unrelated to
blood pressure during non-work time. Signiﬁcantly more participants in the
group of men and women working overtime were found to have a disturbed
ability to recover and to display clinically relevant sleep disturbances than
in the group working regular hours. Furthermore, working overtime was
associated with less positive effect after work in men, and with more negative
effect during work and before going to bed in men and women.
Non-work hassles refer to on-going stressors experienced in day-to-day life
(Lepore & Evans, 1996). Such stressors are positioned in the private
life domain and concern situations that deviate from the normal state like
sudden problems with the car, conﬂicts with a family member, accumulated
household duties, moving to another house or repairing one’s own house.
As the diary study of Bolger, DeLongis, Kessler, and Schilling (1989)
showed, such hassles appear regularly and therefore they can inﬂuence
individual’s daily recovery. In addition to hindering the replenishment
of resources because they interrupt the recovery process, non-work hassles
may also drain emotional resources because they put additional load on the
individual (Fritz & Sonnentag, 2005). Thus, non-work hassles represent
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.106
additional demands for individuals because they have to invest effort to deal
with them. Another reason why non-work hassles are demanding is that
they are unpredictable and unexpected and therefore individuals do not
necessarily know to deal adequately with them (cf. Taris & Kompier, 2005).
This means again that the recovery during non-work time is disturbed.
Bolger et al. (1989) found that non-work hassles including transportation,
ﬁnancial problems, and interpersonal conﬂict with people at home explained
about 20% of the variance in daily mood. Interestingly, interpersonal
conﬂicts, because of their emotional impact were far most important in
explaining variance in daily mood. Further, Fritz and Sonnentag (2005)
found in their diary study that non-work hassles during the weekend
signiﬁcantly contributed to poor general well-being, poor task performance,
higher disengagement from work, lower levels of personal initiative, and
lower pursuit of learning after the weekend.
NEED FOR RECOVERY
Results for Need for Recovery: Predictors
Although working toward a conceptual model of daily recovery, we
reviewed several diary studies that examined relationships between aspects
involved in the process of recovery. Because there are not so many diary
studies that examined the process of recovery on a daily level and in order to
make a more inclusive picture of recovery, we reviewed studies on need for
recovery as well. Thus, the aim of this section is to present ﬁndings on need
for recovery such that we can conclude whether these parallel the ﬁndings of
Need for recovery is the sense of urgency that people feel to take a break
from their demands, when fatigue builds up. Inherent in the experience of
need for recovery is a temporal reluctance to continue with the present
demands or even to accept new demands (Schaufeli & Taris, 2005).
Therefore, need for recovery from work can be viewed as an early stage of a
long-term strain process leading to prolonged fatigue, psychological distress,
and cardiovascular complaints (e.g., Jansen et al., 2002;Kivimaki et al.,
2006). Typical examples of need for recovery experiences are that employees
ﬁnd it difﬁcult to relax at the end of a working day, cannot concentrate
during their free time after work, need free days to rest, and feel tired when
they start a new work day (cf. Van Veldhoven & Meijman, 1994;Winwood,
Wineﬁeld, & Lushington, 2006).
Daily Recovery 107
High need for recovery during non-work time implies that employees are
strained due to dealing with work demands; otherwise recovery would not
be necessary. When people have the time and the opportunity to satisfy their
need for recovery (by resting or by engaging in appropriate leisure
activities), their need for recovery will be fulﬁlled (Sonnentag & Zijlstra,
2006). This will be the case in the absence of work demands during a respite,
which allows one to invest in new resources and to initiate a resource gain
Several studies have examined the relationship between job demands and
need for recovery. Job demands refer to those physical, social, or
organizational aspects of the job that require sustained physical and mental
efforts and are therefore associated with certain physiological and
psychological costs (e.g., fatigue; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner &
Schaufeli, 2001). To avoid these costs or the negative consequences of
demands individuals need to recover (Meijman & Mulder, 1998). Therefore,
individuals exposed to highly demanding work situations experience higher
need for recovery than those who have not been exposed to these situations
(Sonnentag & Zijlstra, 2006). The same kind of argumentation applies to
home demands since they also require the investment of effort in order to
Results conﬁrm that there is a positive relationship between demands and
need for recovery. In the diary study of Sonnentag and Zijlstra (2006),
chronic job demands signiﬁcantly predicted need for recovery during
bedtime. In a longitudinal study, De Raeve, Vasse, Jansen, van den Brandt,
and Kant (2007) found that increasing job demands were a signiﬁcant pre-
dictor of a subsequent increase in need for recovery. Similarly, De Croon,
Sluiter, Blonk, Broersen, and Frings-Dresen (2004) found in a two-year
follow-up study among truck drivers that physical, psychological, and
supervisor demands were positively related to need for recovery. Work
schedule is considered to be an important factor inﬂuencing need for
recovery. Using a 32-months follow up study, Van Amelsvoort, Jansen,
Swaen, van den Brandt, and Kant (2004) found that backward rotation
(night–evening–morning) shift schedule was prospectively related to an
increased need for recovery. Additionally, Jansen et al. (2002) found that
higher working hours a day and working hours a week coincided with more
need for recovery from work. However, it seemed that the effect of working
hours and overtime were interrelated with other work-related factors like
demanding working conditions. Moreover, in a cross-sectional study in a
representative sample of the Dutch working population, Sonnentag and
Zijlstra (2006) found that quantity of work, responsibility, temporal
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.108
demands, overtime, and hazards were positively related, whereas household
and care responsibilities were unrelated to need for recovery. Similar
ﬁndings have been reported by other cross-sectional studies using
comparable job demands among speciﬁc occupational groups (e.g., Eriksen,
Ihlebaek, Jansen, & Burdorf, 2006).
Next to job demands also job resources like job control and social support
have been related to need for recovery. Job resources refer to those physical,
psychological, social, or organizational aspects of the job that are functional
in achieving work goals or reducing job demands at the associated
physiological and psychological costs (Demerouti et al., 2001). Since job
resources per deﬁnition help individuals during their task execution such
that they will achieve their work goals and reduce the unfavorable impact of
demands on them, they will have to exert low levels of effort. Consequently,
need for recovery will not increase.
Several studies found that job resources are indeed negatively related to
need for recovery. Speciﬁcally, job control was signiﬁcantly related to lower
need for recovery during bedtime in the diary study of Sonnentag and
Zijlstra (2006). The longitudinal study of De Raeve et al. (2007) conﬁrmed
that an increase in decision latitude predicted a subsequent decrease in need
for recovery. Similarly, de Croon et al. (2004) found a negative relationship
between job control and need for recovery over time.
Moreover, negative affectivity and well-being when returning home were
signiﬁcant predictors of need for recovery during bedtime. Additionally,
daily activities have also been found to inﬂuence daily need for recovery.
People who spent a high amount of time on work-related activities had a
stronger need for recovery at bedtime, whereas high amounts of time spent
on social activities and physical activities had negative effects on need for
recovery (Sonnentag & Zijlstra, 2006).
Results for Need for Recovery: Outcomes
Daily need for recovery has been found a highly signiﬁcant predictor of
daily well-being at bedtime (Sonnentag & Zijlstra, 2006). Need for recovery
was also positively related to employee voluntary turnover in a two-year
follow-up study among truck drivers (De Croon et al., 2004), whereas the
longitudinal study of Swaen, Kant, Van Amelsfoort, and Beurskens (2002)
showed that changing jobs led among others to reduced need for recovery.
In the longitudinal study of van Amelsvoort et al. (2004), high levels of need
for recovery were associated with an increased risk of leaving shift work
Daily Recovery 109
during the follow-up two years later. High need for recovery after work
increased the risk of subsequent sickness absence that is not explained by
relevant (non-) work-related factors in the longitudinal study of De Croon,
Sluiter, and Frings-Dresen (2003). Finally, Sluiter, Van der Beek, and
Frings-Dresen (1999) found that need for recovery was a major predictor of
psychosomatic complaints, sleep complaints, and complaints of emotional
exhaustion in coach drivers. Need for recovery was found in this study to be
even more important in predicting health problems than job demands and
job control. These ﬁndings draw attention to the role of need for recovery as
a sign of occupationally induced fatigue and predictor of health complaints.
Taken together, need for recovery has been suggested to represent a
mediator in the relationship between demanding working conditions and
health problems (De Croon et al., 2004). However, the results did not testify
that need for recovery after work mediates between the exposure to stressful
working conditions and the subsequent occurrence of sickness absence in
Fig. 1 displays our model on the process of daily recovery from work. The
model departs from the work domain because we found several studies
Fig. 1. The Model of Daily Recovery from Work.
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.110
suggesting that what happens at work largely inﬂuences the recovery process
during non-work time. Similar to the effort-recovery model (Meijman &
Mulder, 1998), job demands are crucial factors for recovery because they
represent the external load that causes load reactions within individuals
(i.e., negative strain during and after work). It is these load reactions that
need to be alleviated during non-work time. Although job demands will be
positively related to negative strain during and after work, job resources will
be negatively related to strain: the more resources, the less negative strain.
Such relationships have been conﬁrmed in the diary studies included in the
present review (e.g., Sonnentag & Zijlstra, 2006) as well as studies beyond
the daily level (e.g., Demerouti et al., 2001). An additional function of job
resources (not displayed in the ﬁgure for simplicity) is that they may
moderate the relationship between job demands and negative strain, such
that job demands are more strongly related to negative strain when
resources are low than when they are high (e.g., Bakker et al., 2005).
When conditions at work are such that employees develop negative strain
(e.g., fatigue which builds up when demands are high), they will be inclined
to react to this strain when they are at home. Think for instance of a day
that you came home disappointed because of a critical remark made by your
supervisor. The more disappointed you are the more likely it is that you will
talk about it with your partner or the stronger your inclination to behave
distant from family contact. Irrespectively of what the reaction will be, it can
be assumed that the higher the level of negative strain after work, the higher
the level of strain reactions at home. In support with this contention, Ilies
et al. (2007) found in an experience sampling study that workload inﬂuenced
affective states at work and consequently at home which eventually led to
reduced social activities with the spouse and children through work–family
conﬂict. The type of reaction or activity that people will be involved in will
also depend on the existing demands and resources in the home domain. In
principle, demands and resources in the home domain may have a similar
function as demands and resources in the work domain; in both domains
demands will inhibit recovery, whereas resources will facilitate it. Note that
these hypotheses still need empirical testing because we have seen, for
instance, that household and child-care activities did not have a deteriorat-
ing impact on the recovery process. Moreover, we found no study examining
home characteristics with a facilitating effect on recovery. Similar to the
function of demands and resources at work, we expect that demands and
resources in the home domain will be directly related to the psychological
and energetic state at bedtime, such that demands will have detrimental and
resources will have favorable effects.
Daily Recovery 111
Now the question is whether the activities that people engage in when at
home will lead to the recovery experience. As the review showed and as
displayed in the ﬁgure, the type of activities will moderate the relationship
between the strain reactions and the psychological and energetic state at
bedtime. For instance, when a person is involved in activities with potential
for recovery (e.g., physical or social activities) the unfavorable effect of
strain reactions on psychological and energetic state at bedtime will be
weaker than when one is not involved in such activities. In contrast, when a
person is involved in activities inhibiting recovery (e.g., work-related
activities), conducting such activities will have detrimental effects on
psychological and energetic state compared to when one is not involved in
Note that what is crucial for the state at bedtime is not that the person is
necessary ﬁt to work again, but rather that the person has increased his/her
ability to relax and to recover from work. In terms of physiological
indicators, it means that blood pressure and heart rate are reduced in the
evening (Rau, 2006). In terms of psychological indicators, the recovery
process during non-work time has to do with less rumination (Cropley et al.,
2006), or better well-being before going to bed (Sonnentag, 2001). Of course,
it has to be taken into account that the constructs of rumination and
situational well-being before going to bed are related to the ability to relax,
but they are not similar. What is important for recovery though is that after
the non-work activities the person feels ready and able to sleep. The better
an individual’s physiological and psychological state at bedtime, the longer
and better the quality of sleep she/he will have. A better quality and quantity
of sleep in turn leads to a better psychological and energetic state the next
morning before going to work.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
As the present chapter demonstrated, the phenomenon of daily recovery
from work stress is a highly complex phenomenon that can be linked to a
wide variety of antecedents (both in the work and home domains), processes
(both psychological and physiological), and outcomes (including subjective
experiences, but also behavior/performance). Empirical studies examining
recovery vary strongly in their scope, theoretical bases, methodological
approaches, and types of outcomes studied. To shed some light in this
somewhat confusing ﬁndings, ideas and (methodological) approaches, it is
desirable that these are integrated in an overarching theoretical framework.
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.112
An attempt to develop such a model has been presented in this chapter. We
suggest a model including work and home characteristics that facilitate or
inhibit recovery, type of activities with recovery potential and experienced
states. These activities and states may affect recovery in two ways, i.e., a
behavioral pathway (referring to after-work activities) and a psychological
pathway (referring to the degree to which detaches psychologically from
work). However, this model is still preliminary and tentative, and primarily
intends to serve as a heuristic framework within which follow-up research
on recovery can be conducted. On the basis of this model, we offer here a
number of suggestions and directions for future research.
1. First, the behavioral pathway that links work experiences/effort to
recovery draws on the type of activities people pursue after work. The
recovering potential of these activities depends on the degree to which
they draw on the same resources used during the workday. Basically,
working overtime should not contribute to recovery, as it will deplete the
same energetic resources as those used during the workday. Conversely,
active leisure activities or relaxation draw on different resources, meaning
that engaging in such activities should enhance recovery from work.
However, at present it is unknown whether and how the quality of these
after-work activities is related to their potential for recovery. For
example, previous research has revealed that working a moderate amount
of overtime does not necessarily coincide with negative load effects;
rather, it seems that working overtime may well coincide with relatively
low levels of fatigue, contingent on the degree to which these after-work
activities are considered pleasurable and rewarding (Beckers et al., 2008).
Conversely, it is conceivable that engaging in particular leisure activities
is not found to be rewarding or pleasurable, and it is possible that in such
cases these activities will not contribute to recovery. Thus, it seems that
the recovery potential of after-work activities may not only depend on
what one does, but also on one’s subjective evaluation of these activities.
A tentative hypothesis to be addressed in future research could be that
any type of after-work activity could contribute to recovery, as long as
these activities are conducted voluntarily and do not involve unpleasant
effect (Van Hooff et al., 2007).
2. Similarly, the psychological pathway that links effort expenditure at work
to recovery involves the degree to which workers can disengage
psychologically from work. Ruminating about unpleasant experiences
and events at work in the evening does obviously not promote the
recovery process. Interestingly, it appears that thinking about positive
Daily Recovery 113
work experiences does have the potential to contribute to recovery from
work (Fritz & Sonnentag, 2005). Thus, not detaching psychologically
from the job during leisure time does not always impede recovery; this
also depends on the quality of one’s experiences at work. Indeed, it seems
possible that not detaching psychologically from work can contribute to
recovery, as long as the associated thoughts are positive and involve
pleasant mood states.
3. Previous research on day-to-day recovery has primarily focused on
affective states, mood, and fatigue. However, the practical relevance of
this research could be greatly enhanced if it were possible to show that
motivation and job performance depends substantially on the degree to
which one has recovered from the previous workday. There is some
research that indicates that recovery covaries positively with self-reported
job performance (e.g., Binnewies, Sonnentag, & Mojza, 2009). However,
self-reported performance may not be a valid indicator of objective
performance (cf. Taris, 2006), meaning that it is imperative to validate
and extend this research using objective measures of job performance.
4. Recovery from physical strain within the musculoskeletal system begins
as soon as the physical stress demands are removed. Thereafter, rest and
adequate nutrition alone, i.e., an essentially spontaneous and passive
process, is sufﬁcient to allow full recovery to baseline levels of physical
strength. Although we have proposed an equivalency of this process for
psycho-social strain recovery, such strain shows a pronounced tendency
to spill over into the non-work time recovery period between work
sequences. For example, co-worker conﬂict, bullying, anxieties about job
security, and worry about the management of anticipated work problems
in the next work period may all result in the continued activation of the
stress response mechanism well into the non-work time period. This has
been shown compellingly to affect sleep quality adversely, thereby
diminishing spontaneous recovery obtainable from this source (Garrick
et al., 2008). It would be interesting and important to examine which
types of daily work-related stressors have the strongest tendency to spill
over to the home domain, since strain-based work–family conﬂict seems
an important barrier to daily recovery.
5. One intriguing ﬁnding in the recovery literature is the zero effects of
household and child-care activities on the recovery process and outcomes.
Rook and Zijlstra (2006) have suggested that because household activities
and caring for children require active involvement, they help individuals
to disengage from the daily strains at work. Therefore, although these
EVANGELIA DEMEROUTI ET AL.114
activities demand effort, they might be beneﬁcial for recovery. This
suggests that it would be important for future research on recovery to
simultaneously consider energy replenishment and psychological detach-
ment from work. Again, such research should consider the degree to
which household and child-care activities are considered pleasurable
(cf. suggestions 1 and 2 earlier).
6. What constitutes successful recovery may ultimately differ across
individuals (Rook & Zijlstra, 2006). Indeed, Selye (1976, p. 413) argued
that ‘‘Activity and rest must be judiciously balanced, and every person
has his own characteristic requirements for rest and activity.’’ This means
that individuals need to discover their own thresholds and live at a pace
of life suited to their personal needs. Some individuals may maintain
health and avoid deleterious outcomes by taking regular short breaks or
holidays (Cartwright & Cooper, 1997); others may require episodes of
recovery on a daily basis involving physical activity (Rook & Zijlstra,
2006). This links to our suggestions 1 and 2; basically, this reasoning
suggests that the recovery potential of after-work activities depends on
personal characteristics and preferences. It would be an interesting and
challenging task for future research to identify these characteristics and
preferences; yet, it would seem that doing so would greatly enhance our
understanding of the recovery process.
7. Finally, much research on daily recovery draws on diary designs, i.e.,
study designs in which the participants must provide data on their
feelings, moods and activities at least once a day during a series of
consecutive days. Although such a design is imperative for mapping day-
to-day variations in health and well-being and for linking these variations
to daily experiences, it is difﬁcult to connect these (typically minor) day-
to-day variations to serious health problems. For example, it is
interesting to see that expending much effort at work may lead to sleep
problems during the following night, but practically and scientiﬁcally it
would be at least as important to see how these day-to-day experiences
and activities contribute to, say, mental health problems such as burnout
or depression. Such problems typically evolve during a longer period, and
it is difﬁcult to capture this period using a standard diary design. Thus, at
present the link between serious illness and day-to-day recovery is still to
be established. It appears that long-term diary designs, covering several
months or even years, are needed to establish this link. Of course, the
effort investment asked from the participant should be reduced
accordingly; few people will be willing to take the trouble to complete
Daily Recovery 115
even a short diary every day for several months. It may be more feasible
to ask the participants to provide diary-like data for a limited number of
instances (e.g., once every month). This would allow researchers to
establish typical individual-level patterns of after-work activities, and
these could be linked to major changes of status in health and well-being.
The goal of this chapter was to provide insight in the process of daily
recovery by discussing theories and research that help us understand the
process of recovery, and its outcomes. On the basis of our literature review,
we proposed an overall framework from which daily recovery during non-
work time can be understood. We hope that this framework will encourage
researchers to conduct the diary studies necessary to further increase our
understanding of recovery and its effects.
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