How to Use the Weekend to Reboot Your Wellness
We live in a go-go-go culture that demands we be “on” around the clock – especially during the jam-packed workweek. So it’s no wonder many Americans view weekends as an opportunity to recharge their batteries. The rub: Between work and family demands, most people don’t have the ability (or desire) to literally shut down for two days.
“A lot of folks in our culture have unrealistic expectations about how much they can accomplish during the week,” explains Eunice Yu, M.D., internal medicine specialist at Henry Ford Health System. “Then, they skimp on sleep, order take-out and skip their workouts so they can get more done.”
Trouble is, those habits wreak havoc on both body and mind over time.
Ready to reboot? Pace yourself during the week and use your weekend to maximize these six aspects of healthy living:
- Sleep. Most people need between six and nine hours of sleep each night. Some are okay on the lower end of that range, but others really need eight to nine hours to operate optimally. In either case, if you’re chronically getting an hour or two less sleep than your body needs, take steps over the weekend to get into a better balance. “Instead of sleeping in, decide to go to bed earlier and wake up at your usual workweek waking time,” Dr. Yu says. Not only will you avoid a sleep hangover – that groggy feeling that leaves you in a fog all day long – but you’ll also be better equipped to wake up refreshed during the work week.
- Eat. Spend some time planning and preparing healthy food for yourself and your family. “Cooking is something we often don’t have time to do during the week,” Dr. Yu says. “But preparing and eating healthy food is a good way to spend time with the people we care about.” A bonus: If you prepare meals on the weekend, you’ll have more options for healthy (and quick) eats during the week.
- Exercise. While it can be tough to manage daily one-hour workouts on weekdays, the weekends are an ideal time to take that hot yoga class or go for an extra long run. It’s also the perfect time to squeeze in extra activity so you’re reaching the goal of at least 150 minutes of heart-rate increasing activity a week, which research shows increases longevity and staves off many chronic diseases.In fact, weekends are prime time to participate in family activities that involve movement. Go for a hike, shoot hoops in the backyard or go for a long bike ride complete with a picnic in the park. As the weather gets colder, choose activities like raking leaves, shoveling snow and participating in a snowball fight – all three get your blood pumping and torch extra calories.
- Breathe. Sometimes you need time alone to just breathe, Dr. Yu recommends. Carve out time to meditate and spend time in silence. You can even practice calming yogic breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven with your tongue resting on the roof of your mouth, then purse your lips and exhale for a count of eight. Deep breathing like this eases stress and anxiety, and quiets your mind.
- Unplug. It’s tough to relax when you’re constantly plugged in. In fact, studies show that being constantly connected through social media, email, smartphones and other 24/7 channels can induce stress and anxiety. That’s one reason Dr. Yu recommends taking social media breaks over the weekend. Can’t disconnect for a full two days? Decide to turn off all devices at certain times of the day, or take a Sunday morning hiatus.
- Get outside. Spending time in nature can help you relax and unwind. Even when it’s cold outside, getting a breath of fresh air can help restore both body and mind. Whether you choose to go hiking in the woods or take a stroll around the block after dinner, walking in nature is a calming activity that can help get your creative juices flowing.
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Sometimes the best way to recharge and reboot productivity is by doing nothing. “The list of things you need to get done will never get shorter,” Dr. Yu says. “So the key to achieving more balance is consciously deciding to do less.”
Whether you say “no” to baking cookies for the school fundraiser, shut down social media requests or decide to do fewer errands during your downtime, make a choice to do less – and ask for help when you need it.
Looking for more advice on how to improve your overall health and wellness? Schedule an appointment with a primary care physician at henryford.com or by calling 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).
Dr. Eunice Yu is an internal medicine specialist who sees adult patients at Henry Ford Medical Center — Fairlane in Dearborn.