Friday afternoon comes and the buzz starts to build. The weekend is finally here. Rest and relaxation are top of mind. Maybe you have a trip ahead of you. But somehow weekends have a way of coming and going while leaving you even more tired Monday than you were on Friday.
The key to a productive weekend is not just escaping from the workday activity, but to actually free the mind of stress and responsibility. A full weekend of partying may feel good at the moment, but the realities of work pressures will return full force early Monday morning, possibly just after midnight.
To help you get the most energy from your weekend, I offer nine ways to help your mind and soul rebuild. Even if you devote just a few non-party hours to these activities, you'll get restorative rest while readying for the week to come.
1. Contemplate your preferred future.
People spend much of their week focused on other people. The weekend can be a great time to focus on yourself, your needs, and your desires. The future, especially an uncertain one, can be very scary. But you have to decide at some point what you want out of yours. A weekend provides the perfect amount of down time to take a walk or sit and contemplate what your preferred future might really look like. A little self-clarification can go a long way toward freeing your mind.
2. Organize something.
Do you come home on Friday only to be faced with clutter? It's not only unsightly but also a reminder of your disorganization and lack of personal time. Sometimes it seems impossible to find the time to clean and organize that gigantic stack of papers, mail, or laundry, but the weekend is the perfect time to set aside a few hours to clear the mess. It may seem like work, but something as simple as organizing the files on your desk can reset your mind come Monday. Clean something big and you'll feel accomplished and relieved. You might even find something important you had been looking for.
3. Rekindle a romance.
The workweek can really take a toll on personal lives. Relationships can be a big casualty of work pressure Monday through Friday. Use the weekend to unleash your romantic side. Instead of rushing through from activity to activity, plan special time to pay attention to your significant other. Structure time to relax and really listen to each other. Starting the week is much easier when you feel the love and support at home.
4. Read an inspiring book.
How many books do you have sitting on your shelves that are still unread? Many people acquire great books with the best intentions of actually consuming what is written in them, but then fall behind in actually getting them read. Many of these great books can be read in a weekend. Find some good light, a comfortable chair, and dig in. You can be entertained and inspired and actually learn something.
5. Completely detach with a binge-watch.
The brain really takes a beating throughout the week. With heavy problem solving, calculating, analyzing … sometimes your mind just needs to sit idle. It's hard for me to rest my mind when nothing is happening. Work just creeps in, so I use TV. I love that I can binge-watch a whole series in a day or two. The story lines fill my brain and let me rest my mind. Hanging on the sofa with the poodle and watching The Sopranos is a perfect form of relaxation.
6. Bond with your family.
Not every family provides a pleasant break from work, but if you actually like your family and can't get enough time with them, the properly planned weekend can be a great emotional boost. Don't just leave it to chance that people will enjoy the time together. Families are full of needs and personalities. Add a little structure so everyone has a fun and fulfilling experience. Otherwise the family baggage will add to the Monday stress.
7. Go on a staycation.
How much do you really know about your town? People often take for granted the natural beauty and cultural benefits of their own city or neighborhood. You chose to live in a location for a reason, so now make use of all it has to offer. Gaining pride in your own community helps build a strong emotional incentive to help you manage through the week so you can come home for the next weekend.
8. Do a creative project.
So much of the work during the week is mundane and boring. You need to reactivate your creative mind. Make a video. Do an art project. Explore a museum. Paint some graffiti. Just do something that uses your right brain. Engage the muse and let her add some more color to your life so you can brighten the week.
9. Completely unplug from electronics.
If you are like me, you are overly plugged in. My smartphone is constantly handy right next to my laptop. I am constantly texting, emailing, writing, surfing, responding, etc. Sometimes it's overload from endless e-mails, Facebook invitations, a TV binge-watch that's gone too long. And I'm not even a gamer. Our electronics can really distract us from the more important things in life. Especially the ones we don't always have time for during the week. Even workouts are tethered with earphones and an iPod. Turn them all off. Go unplugged for 24 hours. Get to know the sound of quiet, darkness, and nature with no artificial stimuli. You might be surprised what you witness.
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