If making small changes to your weekend routine could improve your productivity and mood through the coming week, would you do it? Research says that it can. The good news is that you don't have to make huge changes or start doing things you may not like, such as yoga or meditation (although if you do like those things, they're certainly good for you).

A few simply tweaks to how you spend your weekend can make a big difference to the coming week, if you make those changes with brain science in mind. Try a few of these additions to your routine and see how they work for you.

1. Get plenty of sleep.

The importance of sleep to your brain's health just can't be overstated. Sleep experts say that most of us need at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night--even if we feel like we need less. Ideally, you shouldn't ever be short of sleep, which can affect everything from your mood to your leadership skills to your cognitive function. But if you've fallen behind on sleep during the week, then make sure to use the weekend to catch up. 

You can do this by sleeping late, but you don't have to. Naps create big brain benefits, and the weekend can be a perfect time for napping.

2. Get outside.

Spending time in nature benefits your brain and your general health in so many ways that in Japan it's covered by health insurance. So unless the weather is completely frightful, plan for at least a little time outdoors. Even 15 minutes in nature can make a measurable difference to your mood and outlook. You don't have to travel to the wilderness to experience these benefits. A park where you're surrounded by trees and other plants works too.

3. Spend time with people you enjoy.

Research shows that social isolation can shorten your life as much as smoking does. When you're working during the week, it may be hard to spend as much time socializing with friends and family as you might like. So make sure to spend some time during the weekend with people you care about most, whether that your spouse or partner, parents, children, or closest friends.

Research shows that loneliness can distort your thinking, and that it makes you more vulnerable to addiction as well. Whatever you do, do not spend the whole weekend by yourself.

4. Plan your food for the week.

Some people like to spend part of the weekend cooking or assembling make-ahead meals that they then store for quick access during the week. That's a great idea if it's something you enjoy, but less of a great idea if you see it as a dreaded chore. 

With or without slaving over the stove, you should give some thought to what you'll eat during the coming week if you want optimal mental function. The reason is that eating certain foods--carbs in particular--has a negative effect on brain function. They can make it difficult to stay alert and productive through the afternoons. So you should never be stuck having to depend on a sandwich and chips or the pastry tray in the break room to sustain you through the day.

The key is to plan ahead. Make sure you'll have foods like fruit and nuts, and protein-rich options available when you need them. Tiny Habits author BJ Fogg and his partner have a Sunday routine they call SuperFridge in which they fill glass containers in their refrigerator with foods like hard-boiled eggs and cut-up raw vegetables and that they can grab quickly. Any variation on this theme that provides you with nutritious food that you like to eat during the week, and especially during the workday, is good.

5. Do something fun that's outside your normal routine.

This tweak requires a bit of creativity, but it may be the most enjoyable small change you can make. Psychologist Serena Simmons explains that changing your daily routine has serious brain benefits. Our brains are "energy misers" that have evolved to work on autopilot most of the time, following well-worn neural pathways that we only rarely break out of. 

It's a good idea to jolt yourself out of those neural pathways now and then for several reasons. But here's one of the most important: It will make your weekends more memorable and--if you break the routine with something fun--it will make them seem a lot more enjoyable. Think back to the last time you had a small outing during the weekend. I bet you remember what you did on the outing much more clearly than what you did during the rest of the Saturday and Sunday. That's because, when you break out of autopilot, much more of your brain is awake and engaged. You'll remember that part of your weekend better, and you'll face the week with your energy and creativity re-engaged.

There's a growing audience of Inc.com readers who receive a daily text from me with a self-care or motivational micro-challenge or idea. Often they text me back and we wind up in a conversation. (Interested in joining? Here's more information and an invitation to an extended free trial.) Many are entrepreneurs or business leaders, and they tell me how vital it is to tackle the work week feeling rested, alert, and at their best. These few small changes can help you get there.