We often talk about weekday routines and the ones we uphold in order to be healthy, productive and the best versions of ourselves. For me, this means an early morning creative writing exercise, a workout, an evening meditation, and if I’m lucky, a dance class.
But weekends are the times when we unwind, recharge, and set the tone for the week ahead. Now, during COVID-19, weekends feel more needed and valuable than ever before.
Though there is value in having no routine at all, structures that are present — even on the weekends — can allow us to rest and hit reset deeper and more fully. The many changes brought on by COVID-19 have forced those of us working for education organizations to re-evaluate and adjust our routines to fit into our new schedules and responsibilities as well as meet our new needs. With so much uncertainty looming ahead, a routine provides the stability so many of us are craving.
Try some of these weekend routines that can fill us up without stretching us out.
- Shabbat. For my family, Shabbat is about a spiritual experience rather than a spiritual service. In that way, we don’t have to be practicing Jews to cultivate the ideas of Shabbat: disconnection from the work week and connection to the weekend, ourselves, and the people we love around us. On Friday evening at the LaHayne household, we try to disconnect from our technology. We light the candles, pour the wine, and say blessings over the abundant gifts of bread, wine, and each other. We typically hosted friends for dinner and encouraged one another to share what we’re leaving behind from the week and what good feelings we’re taking with us into the weekend. Right now, we’re continuing this practice with our family unit. It’s a nice communal release of the stress and chaos of the work week and a reflection on the positivity and gratitude we did experience.
- Outdoor exercise. I typically spend my weekday mornings in a yoga studio or on an indoor bike at 5 a.m., but during the weekend I prefer to get my workouts done outdoors, even during the winter. Bundle up and go for a walk, run, or a hike. The fresh air will add new inspiration to your regular workout.
- Play. As part of a family that plays Family Olympics every summer at the beach and dressed up in costume on Sunday mornings singing and dancing to Diana Ross, regular play has always been important to me. Play makes us smile, brings us laughter and reminds us that nothing — including ourselves — is really that serious. It forces us to get outside of our work stress or our distracted mind and truly be present in the game of play. Right now this can mean virtual game nights with friends, a dance party via Zoom with our teams at work, or Mad Libs by yourself on the couch after a long day of staring at spreadsheets. Play doesn’t have to be grandiose or reserved for the playground- we all can be filled up by it.
- Non-work related reading. Sometimes opening up a book or a thought-provoking article can feel herculean after a workday full of being “on.” Weekend reading can be a quiet opportunity to read that magazine article that feels too dense during the week, or to cuddle on the couch with a pleasure read that’s more entertaining than utilitarian. If reading during the week is too much to stomach, the weekend is a great time to expand our perspectives with a good read.
- Laughter with our community. There’s nothing more grounding than laughter, and finding it with our friends and community is a perfect way to recharge over the weekend. Feeling connected to our community might be more challenging now, but we can still find moments to connect and laugh with one another. Jump on a FaceTime call with a family member while you go through old photos, write your friend a letter recounting a favorite memory, or make a fun piece of art – in our house we’ve gotten very into tie dye- and mail it to a loved one. Reminiscing on a funny and embarrassing memory together, laughing with those around us, and looking forward to future plans can help shed the stress and tension of the work week and make light of whatever may be weighing us down.
- Expressing ourselves. We understand the importance of a creative outlet but it can be challenging to ritualize that creative practice, especially during the work week. My weekend dose of creative expression looks like a more intensive dance class, or writing in a cafe while my daughters are napping. It could mean taking a rainy afternoon to sketch, or trying out a weekend music class that feels impossible to schedule during the work week.
Monday through Friday sets the tone of our week and is where most of our productivity occurs, but the weekend is where we come for rejuvenation and recovery. Although it doesn’t need to be as structured, some kind of routine can ensure that we’re getting the most out of our weekends and help guide us into a new week feeling more centered.
When we are more intentional with our time on the weekends, we enter the work week feeling ready to tackle the many challenges that lie ahead. Now more than ever, separating our weekends from our weekdays is more difficult, and establishing a separation is critical to our mental health.