Reducing stress by engaging in leisure activities such as hobbies is beneficial to mental health – and the long weekend offers the perfect opportunity for this. Researchers found that simply being reminded to treat their weekends like vacations led workers to enjoy them more, live more fully in the present moment and experience greater happiness when returning to work on Monday.
1. It Gives You Time To Relax
Weekends provide the ideal opportunity to unwind after a stressful week. Spending time relaxing can reduce your stress level and give your mind and body time to refuel for what lies ahead. There are various ways to relax during this free time, such as spending time with family and friends, taking short vacations, reading a book, or just lounging around – whatever makes you content is most important! Studies published in Social Psychological and Personality Science indicate that treating your weekend as a vacation will increase your happiness. Researchers discovered that people who treated their weekend like a vacation spent less time on chores, enjoyed themselves more during their weekend excursions, paid attention to present moments more fully, and reported higher happiness on Monday mornings. If you want a truly relaxing weekend, setting goals and then eliminating anything that stands in the way is key to enjoying every moment. Setting this goal will allow you to relax and feel rejuvenated afterward. Perhaps set a goal of experiencing something you usually wouldn’t get the opportunity for during the week, such as trying a new restaurant or visiting an exhibit at an art museum – as this could give your weekend more meaning than ever. An effective way to relax is by getting enough rest. Studies have demonstrated that people who sleep well tend to be happier than those who don’t, so ensure you get at least 8 hours each night and try going to bed early on weekends. At the weekend, it’s also essential that you avoid overfocusing on work. Although it may be challenging, particularly if an exciting project awaits you, your mental well-being requires it. If journaling or meditation aren’t helping, try walking, taking a bath, reading a book, or watching some television – anything to let your thoughts unwind so that when Monday rolls around again, you feel ready and refreshed to tackle everything on the agenda! Just be sure you give yourself time off so you return feeling happy and ready to face another week ahead!
2. It Gives You Time To Focus
Take time away from work to spend on activities that make you happy, whether that means discussing Ted Lasso vs. Schitt’s Creek with your partner or letting your furry pal splash around in the pond – whatever it is, take the time out of work for activities that bring smiles – they are sure to help bring you closer to those and places that bring you happiness! Allowing yourself the time and space to fully disconnect can help put you back into an elevated state when returning to work on Monday morning. According to research, long weekends have proven less threatening in terms of alleviating those dreadful Monday blues! Recently, researchers published in Social Psychological and Personality Science asked people to treat this weekend like a vacation and found that those who did so enjoyed more enjoyable two-day off experiences and felt happier and less stressed on Monday. Furthermore, happiness increases weren’t caused by changes in activities (although those who treated their weekend like a vacation did spend less time on chores, ate healthier food options, and took more time savoring meals), but rather by an attentional shift that occurred when entering vacation mode. Although you might not be able to escape to Maui for your next long weekend, you can boost your happiness in other ways. According to one study, listening to comedy clips or eating chocolate before undertaking tasks made employees 8-12% more productive; researchers believe this was because their focus was reduced by their negative emotions, and less distraction was experienced while undertaking these tasks. Making the most of your long weekend means taking advantage of it by planning for events or tasks you know need to be done. For instance, scheduling chores or errands during one portion of your long weekend might make them less distracting – you won’t be interrupted midway with calls about chores – you can simply relax knowing they will get taken care of later!
3. It Gives You Time To Spend With Friends
An extended weekend provides ample opportunity to unwind and reconnect with old and new friends. Plan an exciting social gathering where everyone indulges in delicious cuisine, plays fun games, and laughs together – an invaluable chance to spend quality time with those you care about while creating lasting memories! Recent studies found that participants who treated their weekends as vacations reported greater happiness and less negativity when returning to work on Monday than those who didn’t take advantage of time away. While those in “vacation mode” spent more money overall, it wasn’t just this aspect that affected mood; how they used their weekend and paid attention to every moment had more of an effect than any amount spent.At times of COVID, taking a full vacation may be challenging and costly, yet long weekends can still provide effective relaxation at much more reasonable costs. Thinking about the trip as more of an “occasion to unwind” can also help you get into the right frame of mind more quickly. Add an element of surprise and luxury to your long weekend escape by doing the things you usually do while on vacation, like writing letters or making postcards to send. Sometimes we lose track of keeping in touch with loved ones living far away; now is an excellent opportunity for direct correspondence! Happiness doesn’t lie in escaping reality; rather, it lies in appreciating those moments you do have some control over and focusing on those. With careful planning, your next long weekend could become an enjoyable mini-vacation that makes Monday morning much brighter. We talked with one of the researchers behind this study about ways you can do exactly this using commitment devices (such as booking nonrefundable yoga classes and setting out ingredients for peanut butter-banana pancakes for Friday) to stay on track with restorative activities and keep yourself engaged in these restorative activities.
4. It Gives You Time To Explore
Researchers have revealed that people who take short vacations – even for just two days off–experience greater happiness and life satisfaction when they return from their trip. According to these scientists, this may have something to do with how people spend their weekends. Studies show that most people don’t enjoy their weekend breaks to their full potential. Participants were given instructions to treat their weekend like a vacation and report back how it went; these participants found those who did spend less time doing chores and more time engaging in things they enjoy with happier Monday morning results for those in this “vacation” group than for those who didn’t treat their weekend as such. How can you maximize the most out of your weekends? Taking the time to plan what activities will best serve your interests is key. Try choosing activities that spark imagination or bring delight, such as hiking a scenic trail or taking in live performances. If traveling is out of the question, try picking up a hobby you’ve wanted to try or set aside one day per week just to explore your neighborhood! An important part of enjoying your weekends is not thinking about work. Excessive stress from work can have a serious detrimental effect on mental well-being, so to prevent that negativity from entering into your days off, it’s wise to set aside specific times in your day for chores or other activities that won’t contaminate otherwise enjoyable activities – this way when returning to the workforce feeling rejuvenated it’s much simpler!If you want to increase your happiness and satisfaction, perhaps now is the time to put down that to-do list and plan a vacation. Even if that isn’t in the cards yet, you can still do things during weekends to make them more relaxing.