Stop the days and weeks rolling into one during lockdown.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, Friday afternoon marked the beginning of a weekend: a time to meet friends in the pub, have a dinner party, or maybe go to the cinema. Not anymore, we're all pretty much stuck at home. We know it's for a good reason – stay home, save lives! But the general consensus is that, to stay reasonably sane, you need to avoid thinking that 'there's no point of weekends' and make the active choice to have a good one.
It’s hard to differentiate between the week and the weekend when our freedom to move around and go outside is restricted. But this is our new reality, says Vanessa King, psychology expert at Action for Happiness, and author of 10 Keys to Happier Living. So we need to make the best of the situation.
“This requires thinking ahead, where we may not normally do, about how we put that differentiation in place,” she says. Don’t succumb to the idea that there’s “no point of weekends” now – instead, make an active decision to have a good one. Here’s how.
Clear, and close down, your work space
We don’t all have a desk or a study to work in, so many of us are working in our living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms or other communal spaces. Either way, Friday when you clock off, it’s time to separate yourself from work.
“Clear your desk or work area and put work papers out of sight and reach,” says Sam Fuller, founder of The Wellbeing Project. “Don’t take your work mobile with you during down time and have very clear entry/exit times for opening and closing your laptop.”
Have weekend ‘rituals’ to signal a difference
Psychologist Vanessa King says we should focus on mini “rituals” – small symbols or actions that signal shift or a change – to enter into our weekend. Think of what you’d usually do on a Friday afternoon: do a little less work, speak about going to the pub with colleagues? Maybe then, says King, organise a zoom call or FaceTime with your colleagues at 5.30pm to kickstart the weekend.
Make new rituals for your Saturdays and Sundays, too. King suggests “social Saturday”, where you reach out to people who are on their own – not necessarily old, or vulnerable, but living alone in lockdown.
Save your “I deserve it” cocktail for Friday
Rumour has it that many of us are drinking rather more than we normally do during the week. Some are, apparently, doing their bottle bank run during the clapping ceremonies for the NHS, to disguise the noise of numerous bottles smashing!
Of course, as we all know, boozing too much too often isn't a great idea for our health. So, the suggestion is, keep consumption low and not too special during the week, saving yourself up for something fun, different or interesting on Friday night. Google 'cocktail recipes' and get creative! OGN Daily recommends getting yourself set up for a St Germain. One third each for gin, freshly squeezed lime and St Germain. Plus lots of ice.
“Have some clear rules about when you’re allowed to drink,” says Laura Willoughby, co-founder of mindful drinking movement Club Soda. “It’s easy to slip into new bad habits so having firm boundaries will keep alcohol in its place.”
Dress up for the weekend
There’s no reason to have a “work” wardrobe and “weekend” wardrobe right now – but we still can. If you’re wearing joggers and jumpers during the week, save your jeans and tops for the weekend. Or just dress differently to make some sort of distinction. Maybe share a photo of yourself on #DressUpFriday.
Plan your Saturday and Sunday
We need to be much more intentional about what we’re doing during the week and at the weekend, says King. Whereas before, we were able to go with the flow – spontaneously head to the pub with friends or have an unexpected brunch meet – things are different now.
The idea of no routine at the weekend may be enticing, but it's also a recipe for either not doing anything, doing too much of one thing, or having your Saturday and Sunday blur into the week, says Paul Dolan, professor of behavioural science at LSE.
What are you going to do on the weekend that’s different to weekdays? Walk to a different park? Do a different exercise? “The real danger is that people let the weekends drift, with each day starting with good intentions and ending with nothing getting done,” he says. “If you want to do something that will make you happier, you have to make a plan about how best to implement your intentions.”
Let's be honest, social media is littered with bad news, fake news and conspiracy theories. Give it, and yourself, a break at weekends.
So, how was your weekend?
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