If you work a 9-5 job like I do, weekends can be a great opportunity to unwind and take some time to take care of yourself. I have been trying to intentionally practice self-care strategies on the weekends so that I can refuel myself for the week ahead. It doesn’t solve everything, but it is very nice to have a few days to rest my brain from the stresses of everyday life as a mental health professional. Here are some of the things that I’ve been trying to do every weekend. It has definitely made a difference and helped me to embrace the whole TGIF thing again.
I can’t preach this enough. We often do a lot to take care of ourselves without even realizing it. The first and simplest step in practicing self-care is recognizing when you are already doing it. We often confuse needed rest and relaxation as being unproductive and wasting time. Instead of feeling “lazy” on those days that you lay on the couch and binge watch tv, own it as a practice of self-care that you need from the craziness of the past work week. When you can identify your hobbies and breaks as important self-care strategies, it will change your whole mindset. You can start by making a list of the things that you do to rest and relax. Then, look at the list without judgement and make a pact with yourself to honor yourself every time that you intentionally take that much needed pause in life.
Leave Work at Work
A really good friend and colleague of mine once told me how she separates her work life from her home life. She has a practice of intentionally leaving work at the door before she leaves the building. For her, the physical act of touching the door on the way out helps her leave work at work. On Mondays, as she enters the building, she touches the door to pick it back up. Work will stay at work if you allow it. I’ve started to try to implement this practice in my work. There is now a drawing of my hand hanging in my office by the door. When I leave, I try to place my hand on the picture to give myself a high five for the week and leave it all behind.
Actually Leave Work at Work
There is a lot to be said about planning to leave work at work, but it is harder said than done. The strategy above definitely works, but only if you allow it to work. For me, it starts with my conversations. Without thinking about it, I can spend a significant portion of my weekend talking and thinking about work- especially at those Friday afternoon drinks with coworkers. Lately, I have just started recognizing when I am starting to talk about it. Awareness is the first step to change. Ideally, as soon as I become aware of the conversation, I immediately change the subject. This doesn’t always work, and sometimes it is totally okay and appropriate to discuss my job, but if I can just start to catch those unproductive conversations it can bring hours back to my weekend.
It seems like an obvious statement, but sometimes we forget how important it is to take time to do things that we enjoy. It is immensely important to dedicate a portion of our time to doing things that make us happy. It is not something to feel guilty about, rather it is something to take very seriously. Refreshing our mind helps us to refresh our energy and makes us much more productive in our career. For me, lately my new thing is painting furniture. It started with one weekend project and has ended up being a genuinely healing process. For me, I think that it is important for my self-care strategies to still feel productive, so I really like seeing the change and having something to show for my time. It has helped me to see my worth in more than my job and has helped me get closer to that goal of work -life separation.
Sundays are Weekend Days
When I polled my friends, almost every single one of them said that they dedicate Sunday’s to prep for the week ahead. I’m guilty of doing it too. Prepping is great and can help reduce stress, but the problem with using every Sunday as a prep day leads us to feeling like our weekends are limited to only Saturdays. I think it’s about a balance. We have to take back our Sunday’s and claim them as part of the weekend. That doesn’t mean that we can’t prep for the work week, it just means that we have to be intentional about how we identify our Sunday’s. Prepping can actually be self-care if you look at it through a self-care lens. It is also helpful to dedicate a portion of your Sunday to an intentional weekend activity- whether it is hanging out with friends, relaxing in front of the TV, or taking a little time for your hobbies. It is all about perspective, and I am totally taking myself out of the game of working Sunday through Fridays.
Happy Weekend, y’all!