I can hardly believe it’s already Wednesday and since I’m in a self-care state of mind, I’m sharing my top tips for creating restful weekends, which originally appeared on The Essential Life.
I can’t count how many times I have woken up on a Saturday morning completely intent on relaxing and truly taking the day off only to find myself a couple of hours later looking back and realizing I spent most of the day doing mundane chores or listlessly scrolling through my phone. I am sure I’m not alone.
Without a plan in place for how I am going to spend the precious hours between Friday night after work and my Monday morning commute, I’m much more likely to squander them away in a less than restorative manner. On the surface, planning leisure time might seem like a crazy idea, after all we have it deeply ingrained that downtime is when you just completely relax, zone out and not worry about a thing.
That may have been the case prior to the era of smartphones or the internet, but now unplugging has a slightly different meaning. If you dig a little deeper you will realize that there is a difference between having a bunch of free hours on the weekend to just lounge about the house and actually utilizing those hours in a way that is truly contributing to your wellbeing.
Even the most strict weekday planners can fall into the trap of having completely no idea what their weekends are going to look like and then being forced to wing it, often times fairly unsuccessfully so that by the time Monday morning rolls around again you’re not quite ready to hit the ground running because you didn’t invest in the kind of downtime that is truly beneficial.
The reality is that with today’s modern, fast-paced lifestyle you simply cannot afford to not invest in self-care during the weekend. It may seem that you’re getting less done by productively seeking and protecting your leisure time but the wisest among us know that without this reset every week, burnout is just around the corner.
Now, I am not suggesting that you live your weekends in a tightly regimented fashion; there is something to be said for that time when you are literally just lounging around, letting your mind wander. Actually the best kind of weekend is one that allows you to feel like a whole person, cultivating the parts of your life that make you feel that you’re actively living rather than aboard a runaway train.
A proactive approach then allows you to extract more of this great stuff, like doing hobbies, out of the weekend, making life that much better. It may seem difficult at first to engage in this planning but you already probably do to some degree especially with chores and other obligations that tend to happen on the weekend.
For many people with kids, the majority of the weekend can be taken up driving or attending various sports games or organized activities, so that by the time you actually have a pocket of free time, you default to the easiest option, either watching TV or checking your Facebook feed once again.
Chores can also take up a huge amount of time if you let everything pile up just in time for the weekend. If you kept track of how many hours each precious weekend (after all there are only 52 in a year) are essentially wasted on these less than fulfilling activities I am sure we would all change course quickly. When you’re tired you may not feel like doing much of anything, but the reality is that not doing anything does not inherently equal true relaxation. So how do you turn around a habit of aimlessness on the weekends? A little bit of planning and you’re already a long way there.
Whenever anything that sounds remotely fun or relaxing comes into your mind (for me it usually starts in the middle of the workday on Wednesdays), jot it down in a little notepad or in a memo in your phone or computer. I also write down things that have to get done like paying bills or grocery shopping but I purposely limit the weekend to do’s to one or two major things per weekend day so my entire weekend is not spent running errands. Anything else that needs to get done but is less urgent gets bumped to another sheet of paper (and ideally out of my mind) until the following week or weekend.
I also start making any necessary arrangements for the plans that are beginning to develop for the weekend, like making dinner reservations, buying museum tickets or going through the garage to find fishing rods & lures in the summer. Whatever it is, I start putting the pieces together so I don’t have to do as much work on the weekend when I am much more in the mood to just enjoy my time off and start whatever activity my family and I are going to partake in.
My goal every weekend is to have a special outing with my family as a whole, and then some undivided couple time whether at home or elsewhere with my husband and finally some alone time to be able to truly feel restored for the week to come. Once the weekend rolls around, I refer back to my list whenever I start getting the urge to just sit on the couch and play on my phone.
My own downtime tends to happen in the middle of weekend afternoons as my family tends to disperse to various corners of the house. It doesn’t have to be long (although it could be, you’ve earned it after all) but enjoying a cup of tea on my front porch while looking out onto the greenery or sitting in the bedroom, writing in my journal is much more of a calming influence than the alternative. I also purposely keep meals as simple as possible, and do not hesitate to take a short nap if my body is telling me that is what it needs. I repeat this cycle as much as possible which leads me to feel less stressed and much better prepared to take on the start of a new week. Recognizing that my very human body needs and deserves adequate restoration to function at a peak level then being proactive about giving that to myself every weekend, is one of the best uses of time I can think of.
How do you recharge on the weekends?