Lately, work has been busier than usual. I’ve found myself working late many days, taking fewer breaks, and feeling altogether pretty overwhelmed.
I know that as someone who becomes overstimulated easily, it’s not possible for me to function like this for very long before it begins to affect my mood, energy levels and mental state.
As a result, it’s more important than ever that I take the time to relax, unwind, and reset when I am able to.
These are some of the things I do to properly reset over the weekend. I hope that you can find some inspiration from this post and also allow yourself a little break this weekend from the chaotic, productivity-focused lifestyle we often find ourselves in.
Little note before I start: Upon reflection, I realise not all of these will be realistic for people with children. I can only speak from my own experiences, which is as someone who does not have any children. I’d be very interested to know how those of you with children manage to include “resets” into your own busy lives.
1. Leave room for downtime
I’m an introvert, meaning time spent with other people uses a lot of my energy, and time spent alone is energising.
I don’t want this to be mistaken to mean that I am unsociable, because I am not (most of the time). I, like most people, use my weekends for socialising with those closest to me.
However, the idea of a fully packed weekend, moving from one social activity to the other without any room in between, stresses me out to no end.
I need to allocate downtime each weekend to ensure that I am having enough of it, and so that I remember to say no to activities where I need to. For me, this time ideally looks like one full day or one full night (i.e. afternoon and evening) each weekend.
If you’re also an introvert, think realistically about how much downtime you need. Which weekends have left you feeling energised, and which leave have left you feeling drained?
Once you’ve established your limits, you may have to start saying no to social invitations to ensure that time is protected. Of course there will be exceptions, such as around the holidays, but I am talking about most typical, unordinary weekends.
It might be hard to say no at first, but once you have established your boundaries and start firmly sticking to them, it will get easier each time!
2. Sleep in (a little)
Having a fairly consistent circadian rhythm is absolutely good for short term and long term health .
However, the key word here is “fairly”. Sleeping an extra hour or so on the weekend is not going to disrupt those rhythms, and can be a very relaxing and sensible way to start a day with fewer responsibilities and places to be.
In fact, if you are someone who doesn’t get enough sleep during the week (very common when work is busy!), sleeping in on weekends has actually been found to be protective , noting that the ideal situation is still getting a full 7-8 hours sleep every night of the week.
My point here is, don’t feel the need to wake up at 5am on a Sunday because someone somewhere suggested this is the right way to live. Make the most of days where you don’t have morning plans, and sleep in a little!
3. Reset your living space
Visual clutter and mess contributes further stress if I’m already overwhelmed, so it’s important to me to keep my living space clean.
Because I tend to do this frequently, it doesn’t take very long at all. Most weekends, my partner and I spend roughly 30-45 minutes tidying and cleaning our home.
This includes a proper clean of the bathrooms, a vacuum of the whole apartment, a simple wipe down of kitchen surfaces (we clean after every meal!), dusting furniture, watering plants and putting away things that have accumulated over the week (such as shoes by the door, jackets hung on chairs, yoga mats left out).
With the two of us working on it together, this is such a minor commitment in terms of time spent, but contributes massively to starting the new week fresh and reset.
The longer you leave household chores, the more daunting and time-consuming they become, so I encourage you, where possible, to take just 30 minutes each weekend to reset your space.
4. Get outside
It’s common for many of us to spend a lot of time indoors during the work week.
Spending time outside in nature can be a great way to relax, take your mind off tasks and responsibilities, and enjoy a break from your day.
It doesn’t have to be a full on trek, either. Taking your dog for a run, going for a quick walk to grab a coffee, playing with your kids in the park or simply reading a book in your garden are all fantastic choices.
Perhaps it’s an out of sight, out of mind thing, but the further I am from my laptop, my work station, and ideally my phone, the easier I find it to fully switch off the thoughts and mental notes in the background and stay present in the moment.
5. Take time for your hobbies
Remember those things that make you you, outside of your career? Don’t forget about them!
Sometimes we can get so caught up on what needs to be done over the weekend (yes, chores included!) that we can forget about the things we most want to do.
Personally, I love to bake, hike, and write, but if I don’t make time for them, I can easily go months without doing them.
In my efforts to live more intentionally, I’m committing to making time for these hobbies. One way I am doing this is by blending them into my weekend social life. Instead of automatically agreeing to go out for drinks with friends, I’ll instead invite a friend on a hike, or suggest a bake day together, to try a new recipe.
What do you love doing most? What makes you feel the most content/fulfilled/inspired in life? Whatever it is, don’t feel selfish to focus some of your energy on this each weekend.
6. Go schedule free
I know many posts similar to this one talk about establishing a routine. I’m not convinced that’s always the best way to reset. Hear me out.
During the work week, we schedule our time each day to ensure we stay organised and productive.
Why bring that energy to the weekend, when you’re actively trying to destress and unwind?
I think highly orchestrated weekend schedules/routines are a product of hustle culture, whereby you’re not living your best life unless you’re being constantly productive.
I’d like to challenge that idea, and give you permission to be entirely unproductive over the weekend if you would prefer, and if that is what you need to properly reset.
Although the ideas listed above could turn into a to-do list that generates guilt if every last one isn’t ticked off at the end of Sunday, I want to stress as much as I can that this isn’t my intention with these suggestions.
Do what you want to do, have the energy to do, and have the time to do. If you planned to do something and you didn’t get to it, the world will keep spinning. You always have next weekend.