How often have you thought to yourself on Monday morning, “Where did the weekend go?” Or, “It feels like I was just here”? Well, for many people, they were just there. According to a recent study by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, nearly 7 in 10 people put in a full workday at least one weekend a month. What’s more concerning, from my perspective as a psychotherapist, is the profound impact this may have on a person’s well-being, mental health, and the effects on family and relationships. Given how important this is, I have partnered with Enterprise Rent-A-Car on a campaign to help stop the disappearance of the American weekend.
It’s important to first understand why you might be working. Is it out of necessity and mandated, or, perhaps more self-imposed? If the former, then make sure you find at least some time to decompress, unwind, and relax. If the latter, well, then it’s about time you prioritize your needs and health over that of your employer.
For many people, Saturday and Sunday is a time to get caught up on all the things they didn’t have time to do during the week, see friends, have fun, and do it all over again five days later. This routine often leaves them feeling just as exhausted on Monday morning as they felt on Friday afternoon. The challenge to you: how to simultaneously decompress from the week, recharge, and reclaim your weekend.
Here’s how to maximize your weekend and get it back:
- Change your thinking. Focusing on negative thoughts such as “I’m so busy” and “the weekend is too short” is sure to keep you feeling overwhelmed and prevent you from enjoying the weekend. Shift your thinking to “I’ll make good use of the time that I do have” or “I can only do so much in a day, so I’ll accomplish what’s reasonable today, while making sure I relax, too.”
- Take a break from work. That’s right, actually give it a rest. Make a decision on Friday evening to turn off your work mode. Imagine you’re stepping out of the work version of you and into the lighthearted weekend version of yourself. Be okay relaxing, guilt-free.
- Step out of your comfort zone and change the scenery. Don’t let your weekends become a monotonous routine. Challenge yourself with new physical or intellectual activities and make each weekend different from the last. Give your own vehicle a rest and rent a car. Go someplace new within a few hours of home. We tend to overlook attractions that are within reach when we think about vacations so here’s your opportunity to discover things just a drive away.
- Don’t sleep the day away. Although it’s tempting, sleeping in will rob you of valuable time to get out there and make the most of the day. Further, it will eventually interfere with your sleep schedule during the rest of the week. Instead, if you’re tired, take a short power nap during the day.
- Strike a balance between planning ahead and going with the flow. Look forward to activities and have plans in place, but be flexible and don’t pack your weekend too full. If you make too many plans, then you might feel pressure and stress to accomplish all of them. On the other hand, not doing anything will make you feel like your weekend was unproductive. The key is to strike a balance that works for you.
- Unplug and do a digital detox. Being constantly connected to smartphones and social media spreads your attention thin, thus sapping you of energy at a time when you’re trying to recharge. Learn more about how to detox from your smartphone here.
- Conquer the “Sunday blues”. People sometimes can’t enjoy the weekend because their head is wrapped up in the work week that lies ahead. There are things you can do, such as preparing for Monday every Friday, that can help you beat those Sunday blues.
So remember, the weekend is the time to recharge and take a break. Spend time with family or friends, go on a leisurely stroll or get out of town for a couple of nights. No matter what you do, the key is to try to take a break from work and unplug with the time you have and make it your time.