Most of us live for our weekends. We spend the majority of our weeks waiting for Friday, and then Saturday, and then spending half the day on Sunday dreading the week ahead. But even though we crave our weekends full of rest, relaxation, and fun, learning how to stop worrying about work entirely can be a lot easier said than done — no matter how optimistic you are. We all have fears. We all have stress. We all live with a level of worry and anxiety, but these weekend negative thoughts shouldn’t become a habit.
We only have so much downtime, so it’s vital that we make the most of it with effective time-management skills. But learning how to stop worrying about what’s happening at the office — or what’s going to happen come Monday — is a behavior that needs to be perfected. Your mind is full of thoughts, none of which should be about the report you were working on before you left, or the board meeting you have come Monday afternoon. You have a life to live that shouldn’t revolve entirely around work, though that anxiety can be hard to shake.
All people have been there — resorting to the worst-case scenario situations that will leave you with a pit in your stomach come Sunday afternoon. The worries seem to add up the further into the weekend you get, and before you know it you’re checking your email and making a work to-do list. But you shouldn’t let these worries build up! You should be curled up on the couch reading a good book or having brunch with friends. Here are five steps you can take to make the most out of your next weekend and leave work thoughts and anxiety where they belong.
1. Check off as Much as You Can on Friday
One of the easiest ways to ensure your mind won’t be plagued with the woes of work is to make sure you get everything possible done before you leave on Friday. This way, you can eliminate excessive worry over projects that need to be accomplished. Try to get the big things done or sufficiently completed so you’re ahead of the game come Monday.
Don’t leave unanswered problems or conflicts with people that will leave you on edge throughout the weekend. Go into your Friday with your to-do list ready, and a pen handy to check off every task you complete. Knowing that you’re leaving the office with the necessary tasks completed and others ready to get started will leave you with a sense of comfort and ease as you start your trek home. It'll also mean that you won't have nearly as many Monday morning stresses.
2. Prepare for the Next Week
Another essential step for ensuring you won’t be worrying over the weekend is by making a clear schedule for the next week. Of course, things are bound to come up last minute, but sketching out a list of tasks and projects that need to be accomplished, as well as a list of people you’ll be in contact with, will give you a clear picture of your next week so you don’t have to worry come Sunday about the projects that might come your way. If you have a plan you can prepare — both physically and mentally — it’ll ensure you have plenty of time to get everything done and will alleviate any fears that might be plaguing you for the week ahead.
3. Give Yourself a Worry Period
Maybe you have a bit of a long commute, or maybe you have some time before dinner and drink with the girls — whatever free time you have before your weekend begins can be used as a transition period for all your work-related worry and anxiety. During this time, you should work through your problems and excessive worry about upcoming deadlines and reviews. It’s impossible to turn off all those negative thoughts when it comes to work, so giving yourself some time to adjust and destress is vital. You shouldn’t spend too much time dwelling on work, especially if you had planned out and accomplished all your tasks throughout the day, but even just a few minutes of last-minute mental checking can make for a weekend that is stress-free. Take advantage of this time — Saturday night you will be grateful!
4. Plan out Your Weekend
Just like you should plan your work life, you should plan your weekend to take all the thinking and stressing out of the little time you have to yourself. Not only will planning make you think less and enjoy your time more, but it will also give you something to look forward to. If you fill your weekend with plans, you’ll have less time to think about what you’ve been working on at the office, or what you have to work on when the weekend is over. And it’s good to let loose every once in a while. Your job isn’t your life and you need to remind yourself of that from time to time. Planning out a fun and exciting weekend — or one that has you watching Netflix and eating Lays potato chips all day — will help alleviate those work woes. Here are to-do list apps to get you started.
5. Take Time to Reflect & Relax
Weekends are a time for fun and excitement, but they are also a time for mindful meditation and relaxation. Take some time for yourself. Think about all you’ve accomplished and all you’ve achieved. Think about all the positive things you’ve done in life and at work. This will give you a positive boost in mood and behavior, leaving you fresh and ready to take on the week ahead. You can’t stop thinking about everything work-related on the weekends — it’s unrealistic. But by taking some time to think about the good aspects of it all, you’ll give yourself new-found energy and excitement for the work you will be doing.
6. Practice Self-Care
You need a little self-care on the weekends, whether that's some time spent alone reading, taking a bath, kickboxing, cooking, kicking back with your family, or something else entirely. Here are some tips for self-care strategies for when you're short on time.
7. Talk it Out
Talking out your stresses will help you to sort through them. Talk to friends and family who can offer you advice or, at the very least, an ear. Sometimes all it takes is a little verbalization to clear our worries.
8. Distract Yourself with Passion Projects
If you're the kind of person who always likes to be kept busy, work on your passion projects over the weekend. This way, you won't feel like you're wasting time and you'll still be able to enjoy the weekend. Your passion project might be a blog, a car you're rebuilding, a furniture makeover, a cookbook you've been working on or more.
9. Turn off Your Technology
Take time to turn off your technology. When you're constantly bombarded with notifications on your phone from emails, pings and voicemails regarding work, you'll be tempted to answer. But your time off is meant to be spent off, and that means offline, as well.
10. Surround Yourself with Friends and Family
Surround yourself with the support system that keeps you sane. This may be friends, family or even coworkers you've befriended. Spend your weekends relaxing with them, as their relaxing energy could be contagious for you.
11. Ignore Your Emails
Turn off your email notifications on the weekends. You may even want to consider putting up an out-of-office notice to let any urgent emailers know they can call you if it's dire.
12. Remember That You Deserve Time Off
Remember that your weekends and nights are your sacred time off, and after a long work week, you've earned it. You need the time to recharge your batteries for the next week. Both you and your company will be better off for it.
If you find that you're always worried at work, you worry about work mistakes during the weekends, or you're wondering how to forget about work on holiday, these tips should help you relax.
About the Career Expert:
Kristina Udice is an SEO analyst, social media professional, content writer and copywriter. Her work has appeared in INSIDER, Elite Daily, Fairygodboss and several other publications.