Ways to reclaim your weekend

Who hasn't complained about the weekends being too short? The good news is a few simple tweaks can make them seem luxuriously long

  • Woman reading
    Losing yourself in a book can be immenselyrestorative after a long week. Image Credit: Getty Images
  • Woman reading
    Rituals like going for a weekly picnic in the park help distinguish the weekend from the routine of the workinImage Credit: Getty Images
Friday

There are few better feelings than knowing the weekend is finally in sight. And yet, despite spending all week looking forward to the weekend, many of us wake up exhausted instead of refreshed on Sunday morning, wondering what on earth happened to those precious two days. Making your weekends last longer might seem like an impossibility unless you're in possession of a time machine, but there are ways to savour the break so you begin the next week energised and feeling truly relaxed.

Sahar Moussly (www.lifeinharmony.me), a corporate coach based in Dubai, believes time management is the number one secret to making the most of your weekend. Instead of letting the weekend just unfold around you,

Sahar advises investing some time prioritising the things you most enjoy doing, then making a plan to base your weekend around those activities. "It's the antithesis to lazing around doing nothing, and puts flight to that nagging feeling that you're wasting your precious weekend," she says. Of course, that's not always easy, especially if your weekends are mostly taken up with ferrying teenagers between social engagements, or looking after young children who don't tend to be very sympathetic to the fact that weekends are for lying in and generally living life at a more relaxed pace.

Rawan Albina, a Dubai-based life coach specialising in personal growth (www.leaplifecoach.com), says it's important not to let kids completely obliterate your chance to relax a little at the weekend. "If your family seems to be taking over your weekend, design your time together and make sure you get time for yourself at least once every three or four weeks," says Rawan. "Taking care of yourself is not a selfish thing to do. On the contrary, it helps you to create the balance and harmony that you then take to other areas of your life."

Sahar agrees that allowing time for relaxation is key to making the most of the weekend, and says even small pockets of ‘me time' can be immensely restorative after a long week. "Pay a visit to the salon for a pedicure, or go for a massage; lose yourself in a book, or just go for a leisurely walk," Sahar suggests. "Spending a few hours looking after yourself is essential to make you feel refreshed." 

Change your focus

It's all too easy to waste the weekend catching up on household chores or even work, but taking just half an hour out for something like a stroll along the beach can help reset your rhythm. "I'm a big fan of doing something at the weekend that there's just no time for on other days," Sahar says. "My schedule runs like clockwork during the working week, as I rush around running errands and ferrying my children back and forth from school so there's something really rejuvenating about wandering along the beach with no time pressure."

Some of us are also guilty of filling our weekends with too many commitments, so Sahar recommends putting yourself first. "Say no to social obligations that don't fulfil you or aren't close to your heart," she says. "And to avoid slipping into those social situations that you'd rather avoid, try planning your weekend in advance, making sure that you balance family time or commitments with enough time for personal relaxation."

Rawan agrees that being assertive about your boundaries is an important step to creating the kind of weekend you crave. "Remember, it's your weekend and it can take any shape or form you want," she says. "But first you might need to learn to say no to others." 

Get away from it all

But sometimes even a relaxing weekend at home isn't enough to revive your spirits, and when that happens, Sahar suggests simply getting away from it all. "Try to book a weekend getaway with your spouse once every couple of months - staying away from home in a hotel will make you feel like you've been on holiday," she says. "A break also helps you look at things from a different perspective and assists you to find solutions to problems that might otherwise give you sleepless nights. Regular weekend breaks can also improve your relationship with your spouse and enable you to regain a much better sense of work-life balance."

Rawan also advocates opening your mind to spending your weekend doing something completely different from what you usually do. "Be creative. Research what is happening in your local community and don't restrict yourself only to activities you know," she says. "It's amazing how much fun you can have if you allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone every now and then."

Understanding your own personality type can also help you learn how to shape weekends that leave you feeling refreshed instead of frazzled. Introverts are likely to crave time alone in order to recharge their batteries, while more extroverted characters will probably be drawn to spending their weekends surrounded by lots of other people.

But whatever your personality type and preferred weekend activities, the one common factor is that we all need love and a sense of connection. Sahar stresses the importance of filling your weekend with the people who really matter to you, saying, "Allow time for family and friends," she suggests. "Reach out to your loved ones by arranging to meet up with them during the weekend."

Above all, if you don't want to feel like you've wasted your weekend, avoid work at all costs. "Stay away from work, from work-related emails and phone calls," Sahar advises. That can be surprisingly difficult to do, in this Blackberry-driven world, but the benefits are inevitably worthwhile. "Allowing yourself some time to switch off completely helps you to go back to work after the weekend with more enthusiasm," she says.

Rituals can also help differentiate your weekend from the routine of the working week. Mother of three, Colette, lives in Dubai with her husband and their three children. She likes to make it a point to go out for lunch together as a family on Friday afternoons.

"We don't do the whole Friday brunch thing that is so popular in Dubai. Our favourite weekend ritual is going to a French-style café where we all sit together over coffee or hot chocolate and eat baguette, whilst people-watching." With three children aged four, 14 and 16, Colette and David find that starting the weekend together helps them all adjust to a different pace of life, and catch up with one another after the hectic lives they lead during the week.

Make your own little Friday rituals, whether it's going out or sitting down to brunch together at home; planning a visit to the park or simply enjoying some family time on the couch - whatever floats yours and your family's boat. As long as it's something everyone enjoys, it will become a highlight of the weekend.

Making it work for you

The ways in which you spend your leisure time could be going against your core values. In that case, you'll need to take a long, hard look at your short- and long-term goals. 

Rawan suggests asking yourself three questions that will help you get started on the road to reclaiming your weekend:

  • What do I value most in my life?
  • What do I want to get out of my weekend while honouring what I value?
  • How can I make this happen?

"Take practical steps towards answering these questions," she advises. "Then make sure you create your own weekend around your answers, and stay in control of how you spend your time on the weekend." 

Weekend M.O.T 

None of these tips working for you? The ways in which you spend your leisure time could be going against your core values. In that case, you'll need to take a long, hard look at your short- and long-term goals. 

Rawan suggests asking yourself three questions that will help you get started on the road to reclaiming your weekend: 

  • What do I value most in my life?
  • What do I want to get out of my weekend while honouring what I value?
  • How can I make this happen? 

"Take practical steps towards answering these questions," she advises. "Then make sure you create your own weekend around your answers, and stay in control of it."

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