How quickly we descend from the high of Fri-YAY to Monday’s gloomy depths, slumping into the week with something akin to negative enthusiasm – and can you blame us, with a mere two days to recharge?
According to a report from Cascade HR, it takes a full 10 days for us to switch off from work and relax, and another, from Expedia, found only half of employees return fresh from a whole darn holiday. Forty-eight hours is a blink, by comparison, particularly with Saturday syndrome (a proven thing, in the UK) and Sunday night blues to contend with.
Laptops and tablets turn off, you know, and there was a time not so long ago when folk ventured out without so much as a Nokia 3210 and survived to tell the tale.
But there are, we’ve discovered, some ways to get the most out of your weekend – and they tend to be in the spirit of switching off. So as your workweek draws to a close, start your weekend right by sending that email, making that call, tidying your desk – whatever it is you need to do that you’ll otherwise obsess over for the next two days and then go home.
THAT’S RIGHT, STAY IN
The bar might beckon come five o’clock, but, at the risk of sounding like your grandmother, it might keep you up past your bedtime. Science has repeatedly proven that a loss of sleep makes us stressed (and we’re already getting a couple of hours less shut-eye than we were 60 years ago, according to Oxford researchers), so you’re better off farewelling the week from the comfort of your couch – even more so if you’re inclined to indulge in Friday night tipple or two. Studies have shown that alcohol hinders your ability to reach REM sleep (when your brain and body are re-energised). Trade that happy hour for a happier weekend.
Read More: What Are Happy Women Doing Differently?
IGNORE YOUR WORK EMAILS
France recently brought in a law establishing workers’ ‘right to disconnect’, where employees are legally implored to disregard work emails outside of office hours. It solves the problem of employees physically leaving the office, but taking their work with them – as French legislator Benoit Hamon told the BBC, “remain[ing] attached by a kind of electronic leash – like a dog.” You mightn’t yet have a law to lean on, but don’t let that stop you from giving your inbox the cold shoulder after clocking off. If in doubt, put an ‘out of office’ on to deter anyone expecting a response before Monday. (Research has shown that downtime is essential for creativity – the stuff of a star employee.)
…BETTER STILL, IGNORE ALL OF YOUR DEVICES
It’s hard to switch off when you’re constantly plugged in to any number of news feeds, and while it’s all well and good to share a pic of your avo smash (if you must), if you truly want to unwind on the weekend, you’re going to have to set some boundaries. Laptops and tablets turn off, you know, and there was a time not so long ago when folk ventured out without so much as a Nokia 3210 and survived to tell the tale. These days there’s a certain thrill in leaving the house sans smartphone. Go on, we dare you (and notice just how many times you reach for it).
A UK study of 300 white-collar workers found that those who valued leisure time, and scheduled activities that they truly enjoyed, were better able to detach from work.
Why oh why do we cram our precious 48 hours of ‘rest’ with obligations? The grocery shopping, laundry and whatever other necessary chores are tiresome enough, but then there’s making an appearance at your second cousin’s birthday, the promise to help so-and-so move house, and that never-ending roster of lukewarm ‘we must’ catch-ups. If these are the kinds of activities that you genuinely like, great. If not, consider spending your time doing things that you really, really want to do. A UK study of 300 white-collar workers found that those who valued leisure time, and scheduled activities that they truly enjoyed, were better able to detach from work.
DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
Easier said than done for your modern-day multi-tasker, but doing sweet FA is worth the effort (or lack thereof) as it increases your general productivity and happiness – just ask psychiatrist Samantha Boardman. “I prescribe [my patients] at least 15 minutes a day, every day, of doing NOTHING,” she wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “As a result, their mind-set about free time has shifted. Instead of thinking of downtime as a source of anxiety, they now think of it as a privilege.” Research also shows that the calming effect of your couch time can linger well into the working week. Hippocrates himself said, “To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy” – and as far as the weekend goes, it might just be the simplest solution for switching off.