When you reach the end of Sunday evening, do you ever find yourself feeling more tired than you did on Friday afternoon? Wondering how it’s already Monday morning, or saying ‘the weekend goes too quick’ to colleagues? These are typical symptoms for many of us, who use the little time we have at the weekend to fit in social engagements and appointments that lead the time to pass us by in an instant. Whilst it’s great to keep active in our spare time, too many busy weekends can leave you feeling tired and stressed.
Mike Padparvar from Holstee, a group that helps conscious people live a more meaningful life through guides, art and content, comments on this common phenomenon, saying “Too often, we fill our weekends with errands and activities, and we forget to make time for ourselves.”
However, this does not have to be the case. Mike continues, “With the short-term demands of the work week out of the way, the weekend is the perfect time for reflecting, recharging, and reconnecting with ourselves. You finally have the time to think big-picture about your happiness and your goals - if you make the time, which can sometimes be the hardest part.”
Paige Burkes from the blog Simple Mindfulness agrees, saying “weekends are the perfect time to slow down, unplug, recharge and tune back into yourself.” So how can this be achieved? With only two days of complete free time, how much progress can we make with these wider goals? For many, mindfulness is one particularly successful way of re-balancing to make us feel re-charged come Monday morning and beyond. With these simple steps, suggested by mindfulness experts, the weekend can become a productive time for improving our overall wellbeing.
One of the first steps that will enable many of us to take a step back from the daily grind at the weekend is to unplug. Particularly if you work in an office, or even have to refer to your smartphone several times during the working day, taking a day away from any electronic device can be a great way to de-stress.
Constantly checking our notifications, news feeds and emails, we can become consumed in a space that is constantly moving and full of noise. Spending all day reading other people’s opinions and responding to other people’s questions leaves little time to focus on our own thoughts and feelings. Taking 24 hours away from these devices gives us the chance to return to ourselves. You may well be surprised at how much time you have unaccounted for simply by not looking at your phone or computer. Use this time to sit with yourself and reflect.
Paige advises: “Choose one full day to completely unplug from all devices. The world won’t end if you don’t immediately respond to every call, text, email or tweet. Give yourself this gift, then notice and journal about how you feel because of it. Anxious? Relaxed? Relieved? Why do you feel the way you feel? How can you take what you’ve learned into your week?”
This is time that is truly free. Use it to relax in a way that is truly beneficial, and notice how everything feels when you do so. Paige suggests, “On the day you’re unplugged, eat at least one meal (or all of them) slowly and in silence, mindfully being aware of every aspect of your food and drink. What does it look, smell, taste and feel like? How do you feel as you’re consuming it? How do you feel afterward?”
Of course, there are often certain tasks that do need to be completed during the weekend. Singhashri Gazmuri, Programme Director at Breathworks recommends:
“If you’re having a quiet weekend at home, try to and do each activity with a sense of ease. How much effort does it really take to sweep the floor? Do the washing up? Make a cup of tea? No matter what is happening or what activity we are engaged in, we can always get more curious about the effort it takes to stay present with what’s happening.”
“This presence allows us to open to this very moment, even as it passes us by, and find pleasure in even the simplest things, like taking out the garbage. Look up, the sky invites you to become more spacious and open. And the blossoms will only be with us a little while longer, so why not stop for a moment and let them change you?”
While you’re taking some time for yourself, make sure you are doing things that you find enjoyable. Mindfulness is a state that requires some level of discipline, but to achieve a sense of wellbeing, treating yourself is paramount.
Sinead from the blog Love Style Mindfulness comments, “Taking time at the weekend to relax and be in the moment has become even more important to me since working as a full-time blogger. It's super easy to get caught up in the fast-paced digital world, so sometimes we need to stop and take a moment to appreciate what we have here and now.” While any lifestyle requires certain activities to be fulfilled, it is important to put aside time to do the things that you enjoy for yourself and no-one else. It might be drawing, having a bath, listening to music or baking, whatever makes you feel relaxed and fulfilled. Sinead says “My favourite thing to do is sit with a cup of tea and read my favourite book!”
It has been accepted among scientists and psychologists for decades that walking is as beneficial for the mind as it is for the body. However, a recent experiment in Japan revealed that walking in a natural setting had significantly lower heart rates and reported better moods than those who walked in urban settings. To boost your spirits, take a ramble through a quiet spot on a nice day.
Singhashri notes that “the weekend is the perfect time to stop and pay attention, especially in the springtime” and recommends that, “If you’re out and about, take a bit of time to notice the quality of the light, the sounds and smells all around you, the people you pass in the park, on the street, or even as you're driving your car or passing by on the bus. What do you notice when you take the time to get interested in your surroundings?” This can help you to reconnect with the simple beauty of nature, reducing stress and nurturing a sense of wellness.
Make your Saturday night in a productive one by honing in on your daily thoughts with a journal. Paige advises journaling “at least three handwritten pages about something that’s been spinning in your head for a while.” The reason, she says, is that writing out your thoughts is a way of getting you closer to a resolution. “It helps you to stop the endless thought cycles that go nowhere and helps you to move forward.”
You might choose to use a journal that is specifically geared towards cultivating mindfulness, such as the one pictured above, which will guide you through a series of questions, reflections and goals to help you evaluate your week. Or, you might prefer to use a blank notebook and simply put your thoughts straight onto paper. Whatever way you choose, writing can be a brilliant way to untangle your feelings and bring some clarity to your mind.
Of course, mindfulness is not a passive action, it is one that, at times, we must actively endeavour to uphold. Visualisation is one helpful tool that can be used whenever you have free time to focus your energies and give you the answers to your uncertainties. This is something that Holstee promotes with its packs that help subscribers to perform effective visualisations at home. Co-founder Mike Padparvar explains:
“We think it's helpful to start with the question, ‘What would success mean for you if you took the financials out of it?’ This was the question we asked ourselves when we first started Holstee. Our answer was the Holstee Manifesto, which is the product that put us on the map. But everyone's answer will be different! Once you have a clear idea of what your personal vision of success is, you can use your weekend time to reflect on whether your actions in the past week aligned with that vision. If yes, great! But if you're like most people, you may still have more work to do, and you can use your weekend time to chart a path forward.”
Meditation is also a very beneficial practice to include in your weekend, often after a visualisation, for allowing yourself to tone down your inner monologue and connect with a sense of inner peace. After you have charted out your personal goals and path as Mike suggests, take a few moments to sit quietly and meditate to re-balance.
There are also several active mindfulness routines you can do on the weekend to get your whole body moving and in tune. Yoga helps to calm the mind and foster a sense of connection with the emotions and body. Alongside this are the physical benefits of yoga, including improving flexibility, strength and stamina through a series of increasingly challenging movements. Whether you choose to try a few new asanas (yoga poses) or really work on your breathing during a session, the weekend is the perfect time to set aside an hour to make progress with your personal routine.
David Cain from Raptitude comments on this, telling us:
“Weekends are a great time for reviewing and reinforcing our daily well-being practices. If you have a daily meditation or yoga practice, for example, it's worth reflecting on it at a certain time each weekend to see how it's working for you, and making any adjustments if necessary. Then reinforce the commitment by giving yourself the gift of an extra-long practice session. If we don't regularly renew our practices they tend to get away from us. Setting aside a sacred period on the weekend for renewing our dedication to the most important things, maybe as part of a Sunday morning ritual, will ensure we can stay with it through the times that really test us.”
The weekend is also the perfect time to try out meditation. Jon Wilde is a mindfulness practitioner whose online courses are endorsed by the popular blog Everyday Mindfulness. He tells us, “As a mindfulness teacher I often meet people who have heard about meditation and think it would benefit them in lots of different ways, but they are resistant to actually trying it. ‘I haven’t got the time to meditate,’ is the excuse I hear most frequently. Paradoxically, the people who haven’t got time to meditate are invariably the people who are most in need of having a mindfulness practice.”
“The first thing I would say to anyone who is interested but resistant is to drop any ideas about not being the kind of person who meditates. Modern-day mindfulness is taught in a purely secular fashion and is open to people of all ages, all backgrounds, all cultures.”
Jon recommends beginning your journey with meditation by trying out a simple sitting meditation. Just set aside five minutes and follow his steps below:
Alternatively, you may find that one way to get the most out of your mindfulness practice at the weekend is to book a mindfulness retreat. Going on a spa break focused on wellness and mindfulness allows you to discover effective strategies taught by experts who will help you work on everything from personal relationships to career goals and stress management.
These fun and interactive escapes often incorporate sessions on nutrition and fitness, mindfulness groups, stress control coaching, and talks on how to achieve a happier life. You may even be able to learn more about essential mindfulness techniques such as yoga which can help to reconnect the mind and body whilst calming the emotions. Through these perfectly-curated retreats you will achieve a new level of self-awareness that will help to thrive not only throughout the next week, but for many years.