Your weekend routine now is more important than ever. If you constantly feel any mental pressure or FOMO, if your favorite memes are about anxiety, burnout and caffeine, it is the right moment to rethink how you spend your free time on the weekends. “The weekend should be a reprieve from the daily grind and demanding schedule of the workweek, yet, giving structure to your days off can mean a big payoff,” says Amy Cirbus, Ph.D., LMHC, LPC and director of clinical content at Talkspace, an online network that allows you to chat with therapists. Read on to find out how to maximize those 48 hours for 360 self-care including mental, physical and emotional wellness.
1. Going rogue limits your opportunity for wellness greatness
“The general thought process is that if you work hard during the week, it will make you feel good to treat the weekend as a carte blanche to partake in all the restrictions of the week,” notes Sanam Hafeez, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist in New York City. But this mentality can actually backfire on you. “While these activities feel enjoyable because of the routine you have during the week, they can be counterproductive to your mental and physical goals in general and can cause you to fall into the trap of oversleeping, binging on television and succumbing to a cheat day… or two…or three,” she says.
“The lack of schedule can be refreshing until it is not,” adds Cirbus. “There is nothing wrong or unhealthy with the freedom of seeing where the day takes you. The downside is that getting off track from the things you know to create a ‘healthy’ you, can put you at risk of feeling bad about yourself, which can snowball into creating negative thought patterns and apathy.”
2. It is the perfect time to get creative and super-focused about your workout
And that takes planning. You likely know how hard it is to grab a spot in the best instructor’s class on a weekend morning and doing so several days in advance is necessary. Or if you are doing a solo workout — like a long run or gym session — you have to see how to work it into all of your other obligations (family party, bridal shower, friend’s birthday brunch, etc.).
“For most people, weekends offer us more free time, so more chances of getting a spot in our favorite class or extra time at the gym,” says Amanda Freeman, founder of the studio SLT and co-founder of Stretch*d. “By getting in a workout or two over the weekend, it puts less pressure on fitting it into busy weekday schedules.”
And during the week, it can be tough to get to the gym or a class to start. Maybe you are always squeezing in the quickie workout pre-work in the a.m. or making yourself get to a class at the end of the day, even though you are exhausted? “During the week, most people may only have time for a regular workout session, whereas going into the weekend provides you with more time to try new things,” says Hafeez.
3. You will reach all of your goals quicker
And who doesn’t want to do that? Getting into the routine of having the mindset of including whatever it is that makes you one hundred percent: a stellar workout routine, meal prep, meditation, reorganizing your closet or one-on-one time with a friend or SO into your weekend schedule. It “can steadily increase your goals, rather than pausing or undoing your progress,” says Hafeez. “It is important to remember that improving and changing your life habits is all about enacting a routine that is adaptable to your goals and at a pace where you can progress.”
Because while consistency is key, getting stuck in a wellness rut isn’t good either. You have to push yourself and your goals to keep evolving. “When you have developed and stuck with your schedule that is congruent with your goals, achieving success becomes much more accessible and attainable,” Hafeez explains. “Motivation, accountability, consistency, and commitment over time are pillars of reaching success, both mentally and physically.”
And when you see the results — on the scale, in your relationships or how you feel and react to the world — you will know it is working. “The benefits of a consistent workout regimen are many and include increased levels of happiness, weight loss or maintenance, increased energy, decreased risk of chronic illness and improved sleep,” says Freeman.
4. Optimizing your weekend provides you with more time
“Constructing a weekend schedule can actually provide you with the opportunity to have more time for the rest of your plans,” says Hafeez.
Although it is super easy to get sucked into scrolling (…and scrolling ) through social media or go on a Netflix-binge at really any point on a Saturday or Sunday then realize you have no time to, say, go for a run, clean out your closet or any other self-care to-do item that was going to make you feel like a million bucks. “While the weekends are necessary to decompress, it is also the most time you have during the week to work on you,” Hafeez says. “By letting go of the idea that the weekend is a small vacation, you instead learn to view it as a resource of free time to use for your own benefit.”
Here is how: “Rather than letting your routine schedule slip, try to treat the weekends how you usually would as any other day of the week,” she says. “This does not mean to keep and maintain the same schedule you would hold during the week, but merely adapt it and balance it.” Be conscious of chilling on the couch, posting all the amazing pics your bestie got of you last night, and catching up on your favorite shows, but also put a time limit on it so you feel good about it, not guilty. Set your phone alarm so that you then know that it is time to move on to something else you wanted to check off your to-do list.
5. It can eliminate ‘Sunday blues’
“You will feel refreshed and empowered to start the week knowing you invested in yourself and planned for the week ahead,” says Cirbus. “Your body and mind are built for rhythms and cycles, so creating plans for the weekends softens the extremes and pays equal respect to both your personal time and our professional time.”
The bottom line: Weekends are all yours so you do you. But …be mindful. “Engage in your weekend living in a way that has you feeling good about yourself on Sunday night rather than wondering where the time went,” says Cirbus. “Set yourself up for being your best self on Monday morning.”
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