Get Organised & Plan Your Relaxation

I can’t count how many times I have woken up on a Saturday morning completely intent on relaxing & truly taking the day off only to find myself a couple of hours later looking back & realising I spent most of the day doing mundane chores or listlessly scrolling through my phone. I am sure I’m not alone.

How to Have a Restful Weekend

Make a Plan to Relax

Without a plan in place for how I am going to spend the precious hours between Friday night after work & my Monday morning commute, I am much more likely to squander them away in a less than restorative manner. On the surface, planning leisure time might seem like a crazy idea, after all we have it deeply engrained that downtime is when you just completely relax, zone out & not worry about a thing.

That may have been the case prior to the era of smartphones or the internet, but now unplugging has a slightly different meaning. If you dig a little deeper you will realize that there is a difference between having a bunch of free hours on the weekend to just lounge about the house & actually utilising those hours in a way that is truly contributing to your wellbeing.

Even the most strict weekday planners can fall into the trap of having completely no idea what their weekends are going to look like & then being forced to wing it, often times fairly unsuccessfully so that by the time Monday morning rolls around again you’re not quite ready to hit the ground running because you didn’t invest yourself in the kind of downtime that is truly beneficial.

The reality is that with today’s modern, fast-paced lifestyle you simply cannot afford to not invest in Self Care during the weekend. It may seem that you’re getting less done by productively seeking & protecting your leisure time but the wisest among us know that without this reset every week, burnout is just around the corner.

Investing Time in Self Care

Now, I am not suggesting that you live your weekends in a tightly regimented fashion; there is something to be said for that time when you are literally just lounging around, letting your mind wander. 

Actually the best kind of weekend is one that allows you to feel like a whole person, cultivating the parts of your life that make you feel that you’re actively living rather than aboard a runaway train.

A proactive approach then allows you to extract more of this great stuff, like doing hobbies, out of the weekend, making life that much better. It may seem difficult at first to engage in this planning but you already probably do to some degree especially with chores & other obligations that tend to happen on the weekend.

Relaxing As a Parent

For many people with kids, the majority of the weekend can be taken up driving or attending various sports games or organized activities, so that by the time you actually have a pocket of free time, you default to the easiest option, either watching TV or checking your Facebook feed once again.

Chores can also take up a huge amount of time if you let everything pile up just in time for the weekend. If you kept track of how many hours each precious weekend (after all there are only 52 in a year) are essentially wasted on these less than fulfilling activities I am sure we would all change course quickly. When you’re tired you may not feel like doing much of anything, but the reality is that not doing anything does not inherently equal true relaxation. So how do you turn around a habit of aimlessness on the weekends? A little bit of planning & you’re already a long way there.

Take Notes

Whenever anything that sounds remotely fun or relaxing comes into your mind (for me it usually starts in the middle of the workday on Wednesdays), jot it down in a little notepad or in a memo in your phone or computer. I also write down things that have to get done like paying bills or grocery shopping but I purposely limit the weekend to do’s to one or two major things per weekend day so my entire weekend is not spent running errands. Anything else that needs to get done but is less urgent gets bumped to another sheet of paper (& ideally out of my mind) until the following week or weekend.

I also start making any necessary arrangements for the plans that are beginning to develop for the weekend, like making dinner reservations, buying museum tickets or going through the garage to find fishing rods & lures in the summer. Whatever it is, I start putting the pieces together so I don’t have to do as much work on the weekend when I am much more in the mood to just enjoy my time off & start whatever activity my family & I are going to partake in.

My goal every weekend is to have a special outing with my family as a whole, & then some undivided couple time whether at home or elsewhere with my husband & finally some alone time to be able to truly feel restored for the week to come. Once the weekend rolls around, I refer back to my list whenever I start getting the urge to sit on the couch & play on my phone.

Alone Time as Self Care

In the middle of weekend afternoons, my family tends to disperse to various corners of the house, so this is when I plan my own, very important downtime. It doesn’t have to be long (although it could be, you’ve earned it after all) but enjoying a cup of tea on my front porch while looking out onto the greenery or sitting in the bedroom, writing in my journal is much more of a calming influence than the alternative. I also purposely keep meals as simple as possible, & do not hesitate to take a short nap if my body is telling me that is what it needs. I repeat this cycle as much as possible which leads me to feel less stressed & much better prepared to take on the start of a new week. Recognizing that my very human body needs & deserves adequate restoration to function at a peak level & then being proactive about giving that to myself every weekend, is one of the best uses of time I can think of.

Tell us, how do you recharge on the weekends?

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Monica is a PhD candidate in Biology attending the University of Illinois.

She struggled with burnout after her first semester in graduate school when, like many people, she took on too many responsibilities while neglecting to practice self-care. However Monica was able to dramatically improve her outlook after incorporating writing & wellness practices into her daily routine. Monica now shares her insights into self-care on her blog & Twitter to encourage others on their own personal development & wellness journeys.