Is it just us, or are the days and weeks rolling into one? Where once, Friday afternoon signalled the beginning of a weekend – out and about, meeting friends, heading to the pub – we’re now confined to our houses as much as possible. Stay home, save lives: we’re committed to following the advice.
Last Wednesday, my boyfriend and I – both having a down day – went to reach for a beer in the fridge. “Wait,” he said. “Let’s hold off drinking until Friday, so it feels like the beginning of the weekend.” So we waited. The closer 5pm on Friday got, the more excited I was about cracking one open.
Our weekend was marked by a “cheers” in the kitchen, and it felt… nice. We were still indoors, yes, like we had been all week, yep, but it was Friday! And we were having a drink.
It was the weekend!
It really made a difference, so we began to think how else our Saturdays and Sundays could differ from our Mondays or Wednesdays. A fancier, bigger brunch. A longer walk. My boyfriend even saved his favourite binge-watch for Friday, so had something to look forward to as the weekend kicked off.
It’s hard to differentiate between the week and the weekend when our freedom to move around and go outside is restricted. But this could be our new reality, says Vanessa King, psychology expert at Action for Happiness, and author of 10 Keys to Happier Living. So we need to make the best of the situation.
“This requires thinking ahead, where we may not normally do, about how we put that differentiation in place,” she says. Don’t succumb to the idea that there’s “no point of weekends” now – instead, make an active decision to have a good one. Here’s how.
Clear, and close down, your work space
We don’t all have a desk or a study to work in, so many of us are working in our living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms or other communal spaces. Either way, Friday when you clock off, it’s time to separate yourself from work.
“Clear your desk or work area and put work papers out of sight and reach,” says Sam Fuller, founder of The Wellbeing Project. “Don’t take your work mobile with you during down time and have very clear entry/exit times for opening and closing your laptop.”
Have weekend ‘rituals’ to signal a difference
King says we should focus on mini “rituals” – small symbols or actions that signal shift or a change – to enter into our weekend.
Think of what you’d usually do on a Friday afternoon: do a little less work, speak about going to the pub with colleagues? Maybe then, says King, organise a hangout with your colleagues at 5.30pm to kickstart the weekend.
Make new rituals for your Saturdays and Sundays, too. King suggests “social Saturday”, where you reach out to people who are on their own – not necessarily old, or vulnerable, but living alone in lockdown.
Save your “I deserve it” beer for Friday
Not only does it give you something to look forward to – alcohol or no alcohol – it’s better for your health. Drinking heavily throughout the pandemic could end up leaving you feeling worse and making you vulnerable to infection.
“Have some clear rules about when you’re allowed to drink,” says Laura Willoughby, co-founder of mindful drinking movement Club Soda. “It’s easy to slip into new bad habits so having firm boundaries will keep alcohol in its place.”
Dress up for the weekend
There’s no reason to have a “work” wardrobe and “weekend” wardrobe right now – but we still can. If you’re wearing joggers and jumpers during the week, save your jeans and tops for the weekend. Or just dress differently to make some sort of distinction.
Some people have been sharing photos of themselves on #DressUpFriday. “There might be nobody to see, but I’ve got frocks and nice tops and a new pair of leather trousers and I demand opportunities to wear them,” tweeted one.