“So glad it’s Friday!”
How many times have we heard — and said — those words at the end of a long work week?
As a society, we tend to treat the weekend as a time to let loose and pursue what brings us joy. After all, those two days provide us with personal time and space away from many of our regular responsibilities — a break that is instrumental in alleviating stress and burnout.
While this can be a good thing, often the weekend involves a change in sleeping hours (particularly when you use those days to catch up on sleep lost during the week), more or less activity than usual (if you have weekend plans or take time to rest at home), and abnormal eating habits (like eating out at restaurants, and taking your meals at different times of the day than usual). Essentially, these two days of the week often feel very different, physically and mentally, from the other five.
There’s nothing wrong with splurging a little bit on the weekend. But falling too far outside of your normal routine, even for just a day or two, can create added stress at the beginning of the week. Feelings of anxiety or worry at the end of the weekend — commonly referred to as the “Sunday Scaries” or “Monday blues” — usually stem from a combination of two things: poor self-care, and anticipation of the coming work week.
While it may be tough to completely shake your disappointment when Sunday evening rolls around, there are some things you can do to help alleviate end-of-weekend stress and transition smoothly into the coming week.
Make choices that prioritize your well-being
After surviving a tough week at the office, it can be tempting to overindulge in alcohol or junk food (researchers found that on average, Americans tend to consume nearly 200 more calories over the weekend than they do during the week) to wash away stress and “make the most” of your time off. While a little celebration won’t hurt you, binging will likely leave you feeling sluggish, bloated, andanxious come Monday.
Before ordering another margarita or reaching for the plate of loaded nachos, make a conscious effort to think about what you’re putting in your body and how it will make you feel the next day. Chances are, you already know your limits. Sticking to them will prevent post-weekend regret while still giving you the freedom to have a good time.
Sleep — but not too much
With hours of freedom stretching before you on a Saturday or Sunday morning, there’s no reason not to keep hitting snooze… right?
Although it can be tempting to log a few extra zzz’s if your weekday sleep schedule is less than ideal, studies show that trying to catch up on sleep during the weekend may not be totally effective if you aren’t getting sufficient rest during the week.
Moreover, our bodies respond better to routine than to games of catch-up — so if you want to feel both well-rested and prepared for the week ahead, your best bet is to try to stick to a normal sleep schedule even when you don’t need to go into work. Snoozing until noon will only drive your body further out of rhythm, making it harder to adjust to the work week.
One of the worst things you can do after a weekend is to just lounge around obsessing over the stress you have about the upcoming week. Instead, get your endorphins going with a fun outdoor activity or exercise, like hiking or jogging.
Movement is not only proven to boost your mood, but it can also raise your self-esteem and reframe your mind for a healthy, active week.
Plan ahead to make your Monday easier
If your first instinct is to bolt for the door as soon as the clock strikes 5 p.m. on Friday, leaving a slew of unfinished work to be “Monday’s problem,” you’re already setting yourself up for a bad week. After spending days away from the office, it can be difficult to pick up where you left off — not to mention extremely unpleasant if you have a mess to sort out first thing in the morning.
Rita Friedman, C.L.C., a career coach in Philadelphia, Penn., recommends finishing up your least enticing tasks on Friday so that you can enjoy a less stressful start to the week. “By taking care of the things you least want to handle at the end of one work week, you’re making the start of the next that much better,” she tells Forbes.
Before clocking out on Friday evening, tie up any loose ends and make yourself a list of Monday’s to-dos. This will help you stay organized, prepared, and ready for the upcoming week.
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