If on Monday mornings you are more tired than you were on Friday evenings, you’re not alone. According to several surveys, the American weekend is rapidly disappearing and we’re more stressed because of it. A Gallup poll cited by National Public Radio “found that a majority of Americans (55%) said they were more angry, stressed and worried…than they have been at most points during the decade. [O]ther Gallup studies found that Americans are consistently more likely to be stressed and worried than much of the world.” And this was data from before the COVID pandemic. It’s time to rethink relaxation. It’s time to take back our weekends. Here are eight tips for getting more out of your time off.
1. Rethink your week. “Tackle chores and run errands during the week,” says Katrina Onstad, author of The Weekend Effect. “Spend a few evenings paying bills, doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or mowing the lawn. However much you accomplish, stop working after Friday. This requires adjusting your standards and being OK with a little mess,” she says.
2. Invest in yourself. “Make it a point every weekend to do something for you,” suggests life coach Lisa Abramson. Writing for medium.com, she says“[m]any of us, and especially moms, tend to take care of others, before taking care of ourselves. But as they say on airplanes, it’s important to put on your oxygen mask first. The more you take care of you, the better you’re able to take care of your loved ones. It can also be helpful to ask yourself, ‘What is one thing I can do to make my life easier this coming week?’ and then implement that thing. Whether it’s making a meal plan for the upcoming week, ordering groceries online instead of trekking to the store, or hiring someone to help clean your home, give yourself permission to make things easier and not feel the pressure to do everything yourself.”
3. Do a digital detox. While we know that while social media keeps us connected to others, they are also a source of stress. If you cannot completely unplug from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any of the other social media apps, at least discipline yourself to walk away from them for awhile on the weekend. We know that your smartphone can sap your energy when you are trying to recharge. If you can’t bring yourself to turning it off, try leaving it in another room for a few hours.
4. Prioritize fulfillment. Apply the “PEP” formula — physical health, escapes and people — championed by Professional Organizer Julie Morgenstern. She believes you should “[t]ake care of your body through sleep, exercise, healthy meals, massage; recharge through hobbies, games, or other passions; and spend time with people who nourish you.”
5. Beat the Sunday Blues. “People sometimes can’t enjoy the weekend because their head is wrapped up in the work week that lies ahead,” observes Inc. Magazine which knows a thing or two about business and work. “There are things you can do, such as preparing for Monday every Friday, that can help you beat those Sunday blues.”
6. Claim at least some free time. If you must deal with a home or work project on a weekend, “create even one rejuvenating experience, such as taking your dog on a long walk without your phone,” says Onstad. “The more time you unplug, the better you’ll feel on Monday.”
7. Step out of your comfort zone and change the scenery. “Don’t let your weekends become a monotonous routine,” advises Inc. Magazine. “Challenge yourself with new physical or intellectual activities and make each weekend different from the last. Go someplace new within a few hours of home. We tend to overlook attractions that are within reach when we think about vacations... discover things just a drive away.”
8. Focus on making new memories, rather than just rehashing the workweek. “To make the most of quality time with friends and loved ones, make it a point to talk about work as little as possible,”suggest NPR. “[W]e should reframe our hangouts: stop viewing them as opportunities to catch up, but instead as opportunities to make new memories and learn things about the people you care about that you didn’t know before.”
So remember, the weekend is the time to take a break and recharge your mental batteries. No matter what you do on the weekend, get away from work, relax, and reclaim your weekend. We promise you your Mondays will look brighter.