In A Review and an Integration of Research on Job Burnout, researchers defined ‘burnout’ as, “a unique type of stress syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and diminished personal accomplishment.”
Raise your hand if you’ve been there. 🙋🏻♀️ Yeah, me, too.
Six months ago, I was feeling completely overwhelmed and saw no end to the situation in sight. But after hearing some encouraging words from a mentor and a (small) intervention by my husband, I decided to get things in my life in order.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love to work (and I’m lucky to have a very fulfilling job) so cutting back on hours wasn’t an option. Instead, I took a hard look at how I was spending my time away from the office, especially my weekends.
After doing some research on how to avoid burnout, I realized that I needed to schedule more time for self-care and other healthy and mindful practices. If I wasn’t going to cut back on working, I at least needed to make the most of my free time.
Here are some weekend activities that have worked for me in my quest to achieve better work-life balance.
Find one hour of peace
Weekends used to be the break from the hustle and bustle of the work week, but now most people have a side hustle or social calendar (or both!) to keep up with on Saturday and Sunday. Even for an extroverted person like me, I have found that finding some time for peace and quiet has been truly essential to recharging over the week.
Wake up early one day and sleep in one day.
This goal for my weekend sleep routine has worked wonders to balance feeling refreshed and productive. Typically, I wake up early on Saturday and sleep in on Sunday (I go to evening Mass). I use Saturday to catch up on chores, run errands, or work on professional development, so that come Sunday, I feel good about laying in bed for an extra hour (or two! — I love my bed).
You can choose whichever schedule works best for you, but either way, you’ll be able to wake up on Monday morning without feeling like you slept away the weekend or like you need a weekend to recover from your weekend.
Exercise for 30 minutes.
If you’ve mastered the art of daily workouts, I applaud you. If you’re more like me and struggle to ever get on the elliptical — I empathize.
What I love about working out on the weekends is that I can do it at any time instead of being limited to the early morning or the evening like I am during the work week. I use my time on the treadmill to catch up on a podcast and my husband likes to ride the bike while watching the previous night’s Lakers game.
We all know why we should exercise (feeling better, having more energy, adding years to your life). But did you know that working out even one day a week can reap the same benefits as working out daily? Yep, the Harvard School of Health said so.
With that in mind, you really don’t have an excuse not to work out at least once over the weekend. Your body will thank you!
Try to eat a little healthier.
During my most hectic weeks, I eat like crap. Take-out meals and processed foods become my savior when I feel like I have no time to cook. But I’ve learned that those are really short-term fixes. Eating unhealthy leaves me feeling guilty, lethargic, and it often costs more than if I had taken the time to roast some veggies.
While eating healthier throughout the week has been a work in progress, one more immediate change was to make a conscious effort to eat super healthy on the weekends. With more time, it’s harder to make excuses not to cook. And trips to the farmer’s market become a treat instead of a chore. I’ll even treat myself to some green juice when I have extra cash.
Getting all these healthy nutrients in my body on Saturday and Sunday helps me feel healthier and more confident walking into the office on Monday. So why not finally use the upcoming weekend to try that overnight oats recipe you’ve had pinned for six months?
Catch up with a friend.
Many weeks, I have events every weeknight or I take work home with me — and I know I can’t be the only one! I have come to really appreciate being able to go for a walk or get coffee with a friend over the weekend, without any deadlines looming over my head.
It can be tempting to become a recluse on Saturday and Sunday after a hectic school or work week, but investing in relationships is a worthy use of your time. Fulfilling social interactions are a key component to overall happiness in life. If you’re in a place without many close friends, even a phone call home might do the trick to help rejuvenate yourself over the weekend! (And check out this guide to making friends as an adult.)
Spend time alone doing something that makes you happy.
On weekdays, we tend to do things that *need* to be done — but what about doing something just for fun on the weekend? Sometimes my happy place is curled up in a chair with a book and sometimes it’s sitting at a coffee shop to attempt creative writing.
Relaxation and leisure come in different shapes and forms. Love brunch? Make plans with your friends at the new spot in town. Miss the days of pick-up basketball at the college rec center? Schedule a time to go to the gym to shoot some hoops.
Doing things you love isn’t selfish! I like to think of “me time” as within my free time. As long as I’m not backing out of responsibilities or commitments at the last second, I don’t feel guilty about scheduling time for things that help me relax.
Do one thing to prepare for your week.
I have a friend who spends Sunday afternoon meal prepping for her whole week. That’s an impressive feat — and as much as I’d like to say that she has inspired me to do the same, all too often I get overwhelmed at the idea of preparing my Friday lunch on Sunday.
Personally, I’ve found it to be a very doable challenge to try to get ahead on just one thing for my week. I’ll pack a lunch for Monday and Tuesday, or pick out my outfit for the next day, or do laundry so my full closet is available to wear that week.
When I think about how nice it will be to not have to do these things during the busy work week, it’s a lot easier to take on a bit of extra work over the weekend. It makes my morning routine less stressful, and I can go to bed on Sunday feeling ahead in life.
Self-care can be simple and practiced in a variety of ways. Taking care of myself over the weekend helps me pour more of my best effort into my work week and enables me to become the person God created me to be.