Even in lockdown – especially in lockdown – weekends are important. And even in lockdown, there are ways to enjoy them. Here’s how.
Why weekends are important
As office culture has become more connected and the job market more competitive, it’s become increasingly common for professionals to work through the weekend, especially those in lower-level positions who are trying to move their careers forward. But studies from around the world have shown that work-life balance is essential to long-term mental health and well-being, and weekends are an important part of that. Without them, experts say, we process our lives as an endless workweek with no time for rest or development--which is unsustainable for even the most driven, and leaves most of us vulnerable to issues such as depression, heart disease, addiction, and sleep problems.
These risks are inspiring new measures to protect the weekend, just as they inspired the movement to establish the concept of weekends during the industrial revolution. In France, workers who unplug from work communications during the weekend are protected by law from being disciplined or fired for it. A few companies in the U.S. have instituted written policies encouraging a clear delineation between work time and downtime, such as forbidding the exchanging of work-related emails during weekends and after 10 p.m.
People for whom isolation is a way of life agree on the importance of weekends. Submarine captain Ryan Ramsey says, “Make the weekends different. You have to differentiate time.” And Benedictine monk Christopher Jamison explains, “If you create your own rhythm, you’ll find the day is more enjoyable.”
How to get that TGIF feeling during lockdown
- Stop work on Thursday evening and let yourself relax into the weekend spirit – even if you haven’t finished everything you planned to. Coronavirus anxiety is bad enough without helping it along by worrying about your to-do list.
- Check your work-life balance. If taking the whole weekend off feels impossible, can you at least cut down the hours you work at the weekend? Do you have time to exercise, eat properly, and sleep properly? If not, you’ll probably be more productive by doing less.
- Change how you think. If you keep telling yourself the week’s too short, the weekend’s too short, and there’s too much to do, you’ll make yourself more overwhelmed. Catch those thoughts and remember you can only do so much in a day – and that’s okay.
- Do some stress-busting activities. Try some meditation or yoga, or if you’re locked down with a partner, give each other a massage.
- Try something new at the weekend. Making weekends special doesn’t have to mean making them all the same. Now’s the time to check out that online class or movie you’ve been meaning to get around to.
- Spend some time offline. In lockdown, that could mean reading a good old-fashioned book made of actual IRL paper, cleaning out that junk drawer, starting a craft or DIY project, or if you’re sharing space with others, just talking.
- Don’t oversleep. Catching up is one thing, flopping around until after lunchtime is another. To avoid wrecking your sleep schedule for the next week, get up in the morning and take a power nap in the afternoon instead.
How to make the weekend special
Have a movie night
If you’re all binged out on Netflix and know every word of your kids’ favourite DVDs by heart, why not get the family together for a movie you haven’t seen before?
Have a game night
Lockdown is a good time to pull out your favourite board games. All-ages crowd pleasers with a physical element, like Jenga or Yahtzee, can inject some energy and laughter into the air when everyone’s been sitting inside all week. Or if you’re feeling creative, try one of the hundreds of tabletop strategy or role-playing games available online, many of which require only paper and pencil, dice, and imagination.
Appreciate what you have
Lockdown is challenging but try and appreciate what you have. When you stop and think, you really will have a lot to be grateful for. If you are surrounded by family, then make time to spend quality time with them. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, go and sit in it and enjoy it. Is your house full of gadgets or other types of tech? Then try using them, even if you wouldn’t normally around the house (for example if you have a good quality camera, do some photography in the garden or home).