TGIF: Has a truer phrase ever been spoken? For many of us, the grind of the 9-5 workweek can leave us feeling like Friday is our only saving grace in a week. We finally made it to the weekend – yes! Time to relax, unwind, and—marathon Netflix? Do a month’s worth of chores in 2 days? Jam your weekend full of things you didn’t get to during Monday-Friday?
Often, those who “live for the weekend” don’t actually get to enjoy their 48 hours of off-work duties because we think we need to either turn our brains off for hours on end in front of the TV, or go the other way and pack our weekends full of to-do lists and tasks that end up tiring us out by Sunday night.
What’s the key to a happy, healthy weekend? What are some habits to try this weekend to truly enjoy your time off, relax, still be productive, but feel refreshed some Monday morning? We’re going to share 12 of our tried-and-true tips with you. Choose to take some on this weekend—or all of them, if you’re feeling ambitious—and we promise you will feel happy and rejuvenated once Monday morning rolls back around.
Be lazy in bed. Did you think this would be number one? How often do you wake up in the morning during the week, and actually spend 10-15 minutes just laying in bed? Not stressing about the day ahead, not pressing snooze… but just laying there? Your bed and bedroom should be a place of peace and tranquility, a place where your body and mind can relax. When we wake up on the weekends (naturally with our circadian rhythms, by the way, not by the screech of an alarm clock at 6am), if you can, take just ten minutes to stay in bed. Try to clear your mind and not think about the day ahead… just take the time to think of things you are grateful for, or things that make you happy. Starting your day with 10 minutes of quiet, peaceful reflection in bed can set the tone for the rest of the day. Take advantage of that time when you can.
CHALLENGE: lay in bed for 10 minutes after you wake up and think of things that you are grateful for, or that make you happy.
Make a powerhouse breakfast. During the week, many of us skip breakfast, take the drive-through, or whip up a smoothie in the morning to take with us on-the-go (which is an excellent choice, by the way!). But do you ever take the time to sit down and eat a hot breakfast? It’s so good for your body and digestion to do nothing else when you eat – just eat. Don’t eat on the go, in front of the TV or computer, or when you are doing 5 other things. This weekend, try making a delicious hot breakfast from real food ingredients. Maybe for you, that means making some delicious Pumpkin Pancakes (I know it’s not fall… but these are too good to restrict to one season!), Asparagus and Leek Frittata, or Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal. Or, throw some veggies in a pan like kale, sweet potato, and onion, stir fry it with butter, and then throw a couple fried eggs on top. So good, and so full of the nutrition you need to have an awesome weekend!
CHALLENGE: cook a hot meal at least one morning this weekend. Sit down and take your time enjoying it, savouring the food and the goodness, without doing anything else.
Schedule some chore time. Yes, there are definitely some chores that will need to get done on a weekend. Grocery shopping, some laundry, maybe yard work or cleaning the bathroom. Whatever it is, though, don’t try to get everything done in one or two days, otherwise you won’t have time for anything else. So on Saturday morning (or Friday night), schedule 2-3 hours for the weekend to focus on your chores. That could be all on the Saturday, or split between Saturday and Sunday. Think about the highest priority items, and tackle them in that chore time. When chore time is over, don’t push yourself to keep going. Actually stop, as if it was a meeting, and be thankful for what you accomplished in that time. This might seem like not enough time, but this is where Monday-Friday comes in, as well. You could schedule a room a day, like cleaning your bathroom on Monday night, or vacuuming Tuesday night, to help spread the weekly cleaning routine throughout the week instead of cramming it into a weekend.
CHALLENGE: only do your chores in your designated chore time, and then let go!
Unplug. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to actually relax on your weekends. From Monday to Friday, we are constantly bombarded by electronics—our computers at work, our phones for social media and calls, TV at night, iPads and tablets in bed… it never seems to end. This constant stimulation keeps your brain going all the time, and makes it difficult for your body to shut down and relax… especially if you are doing these things right before bed. There is also a new phenomenon called Digital Eye Burn that can happen from the light these electronics give off. Give your mind, eyes, and nerves a break by totally unplugging this weekend. If the whole weekend is hard, do it for a few hours. Turn your computer and phone off, avoid the TV, and totally zone out. This might mean relaxing with a book without your text messages distracting you, or going for a walk in nature without music and actually taking in the sights and sounds. You’ll be surprised how liberated and free you feel after just a few hours. Try extending this each weekend to see if you can go a full 48 hours without these gadgets to give your body a true electronic detox!
CHALLENGE: unplug from your electronics for 2 hours each day.
Indulge in some vitamin G. Green space, that is. Getting out into nature and soaking up its goodness has SO many benefits, from clearing your mind to boosting your mood to detoxing your body through movement and sweat. As part of the challenge to unplug, find some green space outside and go for a walk, meditate in the park, or do anything you can to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors. It’s amazing what even an hour can do for your mental, physical, and emotional health. And yes, this should be time without your electronics!
CHALLENGE: get outside in some capacity for 1 hour each day over the weekend!
Socialize with someone you love. This is a BIG one! If we spent all of the weekend inside on our own, we would become unhappy hermits. Try to see at least one person you care about each weekend day, and spend a couple hours socializing with them. Have a friend join you on your nature walk, or go catch up over coffee or dinner. Whatever you fancy, having someone to chat and unwind with after a long week is great for emotional health. It helps you feel connected, get any grievances off your chest, and feel cared about.
CHALLENGE: have some social time each day with a friend or family member.
Engage with a hobby. Do you ever find that during the week, work is so mentally taxing that you come home and don’t want to do much of anything? This might include hobbies that you love. You know you love doing them, but laying on the couch just seems so much more inviting. Over the weekend, try to indulge in a few hours of hobby-time. This gets your brain moving in a different way than work, and makes you feel clear, happy, and challenged—which we all need! It also reminds you of your different abilities and talents. Whether you love playing music, painting or drawing, writing, photography – whatever your hobby is, do yourself a favour and do it this weekend. It might seem a bit daunting to start, but once you’re doing it, you will feel light and happy. There’s a reason they’re hobbies—they’re enjoyable for us, and don’t feel like work. You deserve that me-time!
CHALLENGE: spend a few hours this weekend on a hobby you’ve been neglecting.
Share your meals with others. If you love cooking, the weekend is a great time to try out new recipes, invite some family or a few friends over, and enjoy the food with them. Good food and good company cannot be beat. Don’t like cooking? Go out with some friends to a new restaurant or bring the wine to a friend’s house if they cook you dinner. The point is, share your meals with someone. The experience of eating and the flavour of food is enhanced with you have someone there with you to enjoy the time with. Plus, two people cleaning up after a meal is better than one!
CHALLENGE: have at least one meal a day with other people.
Avoid the TV. With all the options today on Netflix and other streaming programs, it is so tempting, after a long week, to flop on the couch in your sweats and ‘Netflix and chill’. Before you get sucked into the world of marathoning your favourite TV show and getting that “Are you still watching?” message from Netflix, try keeping your TV off for the majority of your weekend. If you really want to challenge yourself, don’t turn it on for the whole 48 hours. However, for some people it is relaxing to watch one episode of their favourite show on a Friday night or catch up with a friend over a movie in the background. We’re just recommending you don’t spend multiple hours a day in front of the tube. Why? It might feel relaxing, but it actually is stimulating for your mind, but not in a positive way. You’re staying dormant while your mind is working—similar to working throughout the week. It generally does not make you feel relaxed after watching TV for prolonged periods of time, and it might leave you feeling lethargic. Unplug, leave the TV off, and enjoy the other parts of your weekend.
CHALLENGE: try not to have the TV on for more than 3 hours this weekend.
Catch up on Zzzz’s. Often throughout the week, we set alarms for us to get up in the morning for work or other priorities. On the weekend, we recommend turning your alarm off and letting your body wake up with its normal rhythms. This can help your adrenal glands and circadian rhythms reset if you need some extra hours of shut-eye. Also remember to try not to go to bed too late. Sure, on the weekend we might stay up a bit later than during the week, but remember that your adrenal glands (the glands that manage how well you handle stress) repair between the hours of 10pm-2pm. Try to be resting during those hours, or for some of those hours, to avoid heading toward adrenal fatigue. And in the morning, you might find you wake up naturally at your regular time and are ready to go – that’s great! But if you wake up a couple hours later than normal, don’t stress. Your body and adrenals likely needed that extra time to rest.
CHALLENGE: leave your alarm clock off, and try to be asleep (or at least relaxed) for your adrenal repair hours!
Plan something exciting for Sunday night. How many of you get a major case of the Sunday-night-blah’s when you remember that Monday is coming and you have to get back to the grind? Sometimes, it can ruin your whole Sunday if you are dreading the coming week. Turn this dread upside down by planning something enjoying for your Sunday night. It might be a family dinner, a night out, or something you really love doing. Whatever it is, plan it for Sunday night so that you are still looking forward to the end of your weekend. This will help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the week come Monday morning!
CHALLENGE: plan something exciting and enjoyable for your Sunday night.
Be present. Finally, the last time: just be present. Whatever you’re doing, whether you are relaxing by yourself in nature, enjoying your hobby-time, or socializing with friends, just be mindful of that time. Try not to think ahead to what’s coming next, or reminisce about something that happened in your week. Take a few deep breaths, focus your attention on the moment, and just enjoy. You will never have this moment again. Revel in every second of it. Being mindful and present is a challenge, and it’s something that needs to be practiced. But if you try to do this every weekend, and during the week, it will get easier, and you will find you will be happier and healthier for it!
CHALLENGE: Be mindful, be present, and enjoy.
Those are 12 of our tips to have a happy, healthy weekend. You don’t have to try them all this weekend—choose a few and see how you feel! Maybe add on a few more next weekend. Whatever you decide, just enjoy the time you have this weekend doing things you love and seeing people who make you happy. I mean, if the floor doesn’t get cleaned, is it really the end of the world? Try to choose mindfulness, happiness, and health for the next 48 hours, and let us know some of your favourite weekend habits. Happy weekending!