All you want to do after a long hard week of work is switch off and enjoy the weekend. But it’s not so easy, is it? Work just follows you home, yapping at your heels and demanding your attention.
But here’s the thing: Switching off from work is important. You need downtime to stay healthy and happy. So how do you get your brain into weekend mode and truly leave those work stresses behind?
Let’s dive into some strategies you can use to disconnect and properly enjoy your weekend.
Why You Need to Switch Off and Enjoy the Weekend
First up, a quick reminder of why it’s important to nail the whole leaving-work-at-work thing.
Let’s put it this way: Having work constantly looming over you like a cloud means you can never quite relax. And if you never quite relax, you never have the opportunity to replenish your energy stores and mental focus.
Notice something though? The positive effects of time off are temporary. That’s why regularly switching off and enjoying your weekends is key to a healthy work-life balance.
Below are some tips on how to do this, starting with a pre-weekend routine and moving on to what to do once that sweet Saturday rolls around.
How to Enjoy the Weekend Before it Starts
When work follows you into the weekend it can engulf you. Suddenly your Monday morning alarm is screaming in your ear, and you’re left wondering whether Saturday and Sunday happened at all.
To avoid the workweek creep, try implementing a little end-of-the-week routine. Its purpose? To signal that work time is over and to set mental and physical boundaries around your weekend.
Here are some things to try:
1. Plan for next week
It may feel like more work but trust us: It’s worth spending even a few minutes laying down some plans for the following week before your weekend begins.
Research shows that getting plans onto paper frees up mental space so we can relax and think about other things.
So a little planning session will help tie up the mental loose ends of the week, keep stray worries and unfinished tasks out of your head, and get you feeling more organized and in control.
To get the most out of your planning, try a Panda Planner. Not only will you be able to unplug, you’ll also be happier and more productive at work and at home. Get 25% off with code BLOG25
2. Do a tidy-up
If planning ties up the mental loose ends of the week, then tidying up your workspace straightens up the physical ones. A quick tidy-up can give your workweek a sense of closure, not to mention getting your desk ready to go for a fresh start on Monday morning.
Research confirms this is a good idea. Studies show that clutter is bad for focus, while physical order leads to healthy choices.
Not sure where to start? Check out these workspace decluttering tips.
3. Set limits
Ignoring work-related messages and calls is way more stressful than not receiving them in the first place.
Before you leave for the weekend let colleagues, clients, and anyone else know that you won’t be available to answer emails or take calls.
Or if you really must be available try to set limits on when and for how long. For example, limit checking emails to a one-hour block first thing in the morning on weekends and then disconnect for the rest of the day.
Drawing a line will help stop the work from seeping into your personal time.
How to Enjoy the Weekend
Once you have your pre-weekend routine down pat, give some focus to how you actually think and behave on your days off.
Try these tips:
1. Dress for downtime
Can what you wear change the way you feel and think? Research says yes.
Take this study, for example, which found that people performed better at attention-related tasks when wearing a lab coat. When told it was a painter’s coat, they didn’t perform as well.
What can we take from this? In a nutshell, that clothes have symbolic meaning. We form mental associations with what we wear, and our behavior changes to fit those associations.
That’s why getting out of your work gear is a good idea. Doubly so for people who work from home: Changing clothes creates a separation between your work self and home self, even when your physical location stays the same.
2. Get physical
As anyone who’s ever punched a heavy bag knows, exercise is great for stress relief. And if aggressive, high-intensity workouts aren’t your cup of tea, don’t fret: Yoga, walking, hitting a tennis ball… it all counts.
One study from 2013 measured the impact of 15-minute physical activity breaks in the workplace. People who took the breaks were less stressed and enjoyed work more. In other words, it’s well worth getting active in moments when you’re not working.
But since fitting in exercise during workdays isn’t always possible (good intentions notwithstanding), you can use your weekends instead.
Indeed, a 2017 study of more than 60,000 people found that exercise reduced the risk of early death—even in those who packed all their exercise into the weekends.
3. Stay present
Being present throughout your weekends will help you recognize when work (or work stress) is sneaking back into your personal time.
On top of that, being present means you’re more likely to actually slow down and enjoy your downtime, to fully appreciate every experience, and to be available in your relationships with others.
But how do you cultivate presence?
Mindfulness meditation exercises are one way to go—and absolutely anyone can practice them.
Research shows that mindfulness practice can help you cope with stress, increase your well-being, and improve your romantic relationships. So incorporate some into your days off and you’ll not only enjoy the weekend more, but you’ll also return to work better equipped to face another week.
So… what are you up to this weekend?
Your turn: What do you do to switch off and enjoy the weekend?
For more ways to make the most out of your off-time, check out our post on how to relax.