It's a good idea to allow yourself the free time you need during the weekends. Image Credit: Seyyed de L'lata/Gulf News

How time flies. It’s Monday, February 28, 2022, and we’ve already spent nine new weekends since UAE changed the work week at the start of the year.

The initial excitement around the “new year, new weekend” has eased and by now, most of us have settled into our new routines.

Routines indeed. I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of us out there who can’t quite recall the last time we spent a relaxing weekend.

It’s ironical how we wait for the weekend all week long, but when it arrives, all we do is go about a litany of tasks, ticking a long list of checkboxes. Workday or otherwise, it’s a daily grind, thanks to the demands that life places on us, or rather, we place upon ourselves.

It hardly matters what day of the week it is, as we find ourselves in an ever-switched-on state, our constantly pinging devices not helping matters either. Resigning ourselves to go through the motions, we blame it all on our work pressures, domestic chores – why, the pandemic too in recent times – and cry foul that life is just slipping by.

It could well be - from what health experts tell us. We know fully well that by not allowing ourselves any downtime, we are only overworking our minds and bodies to a point that there could be no return. Yet, we find ourselves doing precious little about it.

We also read about studies that underline the importance of a well-spent weekend. In fact, the very basis of the weekend change in the UAE was to help us achieve a better work-life balance, besides, of course, realign our work schedules with the rest of the world. But have we risen to the occasion?

Well, better late than never. The time has come to reclaim our weekend.

Of all the literature available on the need to spend a good weekend, Katrina Onstad’s The Weekend Effect: The Life-Changing Benefit of Taking Two Days Off is particularly inspiring as she focuses on how we can get a grip on our elusive days off.

Tips you could you use to relax over the weekends. Image Credit: Seyyed de L'lata/Gulf News

The well-researched book has many takeaways from people who fiercely safeguard their weekends to do things that make them feel happy and purposeful.

As I write this, I am also reminded of an incident last year when a colleague working on a story was trying to contact a source based in the US. It was a Sunday, the then first day of the working week for us, but a holiday in the West. The source, who was out fishing, certainly did not take to the call kindly, and actually told my colleague off.

He got back to us later that week, and explained how the weekend was sacrosanct to him. It was his time off from work so he could be with his family, pursue his interests or just do nothing, which he added, was equally, if not more, essential to help him recharge for the week ahead.

He had a point, and looking back now, one that needs to be respected. Setting boundaries did not make him any less of a working mortal. Just as all work and no play does not make anyone immortal.

Clearly, there’s a time and place for everything. And not everything can be done by everyone at all times. The sooner we realise this, the better off we will be.

On that enlightened note, I am getting back to work now, even as I resolve to reclaim my weekend.