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The importance of leisure as a means of coping with work related stress: An exploratory study

Author(s): Trenberth L, Dewe P

Abstract

Work stress researchers have long recognized the importance of coping in the work stress relationship and there is now a growing body of literature exploring the measurement and classification of coping strategies. While a range of coping activities have been explored one area that has received a less than complete treatment is the importance individuals give to leisure as a means of coping with work related stress. This research set out to explore the important reasons individual attach to leisure as a means of coping with work stress. The sample was made up of 695 principals and deputy principals from secondary schools throughout New Zealand. Analysis revealed that there were two reasons why leisure is important as a means of coping; one because of its active/challenging nature and the other because of its more passive/recuperative nature. The items that made up these two broad categories were then further explored in relation to a number of measures of well-being. This involved the use of sequential tree analysis and the sequential unfolding of the different reasons. The pattern to emerge suggested that 'being totally focused' was an important reason for engaging in active/challenging leisure whereas a more complex profile emerged for using passive/recuperative leisure activities. The significance of these findings is discussed in terms of intervention strategies and the role of leisure within work stress research.

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