How to Treat Your Weekend Like a Vacation

Jake Newby

| 3 min read

Between cleaning the house, running errands, food prepping and other obligations, weekends can sometimes feel like a grind. By the time we’re finally ready to relax, we’re setting our alarms for Monday morning wondering where the days went. 
Break that cycle by treating an upcoming weekend like a vacation. Even if you only do it once, it could lead to more satisfaction, less stress and fewer worries by the time Monday rolls around, while preventing burnout at the same time.
Along with colleagues, Professor Cassie Mogilner of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management conducted a series of social experiments in 2020 in which she instructed 441 American workers to either treat their weekends like they normally door treat it like a vacation. This meant ditching some usual habits like watching TV on the couch or running to the store. Mogilner’s study found that by Monday, those who adopted the vacation mindset said they were happier than those who returned to work after engaging in their normal weekend routine.
If you’re open to rethinking your weekend, these tips can get you in the right frame of mind.
Unplug: Before setting out on vacation, set out to minimize distractions. Before your weekend vacation, turn off email and smart phone application notifications. Set aside your work laptop the second your workday ends and don’t go back to it. Plan to be on your phone less. Let the people you normally spend time small talking and sharing memes with know that you will essentially be out of town this weekend. Unplug from your smart devices. Being mindful about breaking these habits can allow you to be present for the weekend ahead.
Consider barriers and priorities ahead of time: Protect your weekend time by sneaking in an hour or two on the last few nights of the week to tidy up the house or get some groceries. If you’re not including your kids in the weekend vacation, lock in a babysitter ahead of time. If you’re on a budget, brainstorm a couple of nearby free or low-cost activities ahead of time. If the weather forecast looks bad, brainstorm a couple of indoor activities ahead of time. Foresight can help you avoid spending Saturday morning planning so you can instead wake up and get right to the fun stuff.
Act like a tourist: Plan an outing you wouldn’t normally plan on an average weekend. Visit a city two towns away and check out its downtown offerings. Grab lunch at one of its acclaimed restaurants. Walk on a nature trail and have a cocktail at one of its best bars afterwards. If the kids are part of your weekend vacation, keep up this same spirit by leaving town and checking out a museum you’ve never visited or plan a picnic at a park you’ve never seen. Treating your weekend like a vacation doesn’t have to automatically mean spending money for the “vacation effect.” It’s about breaking away from the routine and focusing on taking advantage of the time you have off. 
Don’t put extra pressure on yourself: Crafting a rigid list of activities – time slots included –isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Scrambling from one activity to the next is stressful to some and defeats the purpose of this concept. Adopting a vacation mentality could just mean getting breakfast at your favorite comfort food restaurant and not rushing out when the meal’s done. Instead, enjoy an extra cup of coffee while chatting with your significant other. Remember to unwind, unplug and just try to slow things down.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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