Scrolling through my Instagram feed over the past week or two, one thing seemed to crop up again and again: what day it was, and how close it was to the weekend. Quotes like “Monday should be optional”, “This is the Monday-est Tuesday ever”, #FridayFeeling & #FriYAY when we finally reached the end of the week , and – of course -“Warning: going to sleep on Sunday will cause Monday”. And then it began again.
As someone who genuinely enjoys their job, even I find myself wishing my week away in anticipation of that Friday Feeling, but I’ve realised that living for 2 days out of 7 isn’t good for my wellbeing; that’s just maths. It’s hardly surprising, given this mindset, that an estimated 3 in every 10 employees in the UK will suffer from a mental health issue this year. I’m not suggesting that captioning your Instagram post with #FriYAY means that you’re deeply unhappy or anything, but I think a lot of us (myself included) would benefit from a bit more positivity all week long, and not just at the weekend.
It’s time for an action plan. Here are the challenges I’m setting myself:
1. Have a midweek event to get excited about
I look forward to the weekend because, to be completely honest, on weekdays I do bugger all except work, come home, eat dinner, watch Desperate Housewives, and sleep. And repeat. Just having one thing planned to break up the week could make all the difference – why not make Wednesdays ‘cinema night’, for example? Whether you go all out at the actual cinema, or invite your friends over for a snuggle and snacks in front of Netflix, this might just stop you wishing your whole week away as soon as Monday rolls around. Meeting friends for a catch up (and a cocktail, if you’re that way inclined – and I certainly am) is another good way to de-stress and unwind, and also offers an opportunity to be somewhere other than home and work during the week. Plus, cocktails!
2. Don’t get stuck in a dinnertime rut
I’m not sure about you, but food makes me happy. I enjoy cooking, but having the same dishes day-in-day-out makes both cooking AND eating so boring! I have to cook most days, so to make it something I look forward to, I choose at least one new recipe to try every week. It doesn’t have to be some exotic dish I’ve never tried before – I’m just as happy testing out a new way of making my favourite meal, or making something really simple but tasty. My favourite place to find new weekday recipes is over at Budget Bytes, a fantastic blog brimming with easy, cheap, healthy and delicious meal ideas!
3. Create work/life balance by focusing on a hobby
Whether it’s a new venture you’ve always wanted to try, a pastime you used to love and kinda just forgot about, or something you already do but would like to spend more time on, enjoying a hobby that’s completely separate from work is a brilliant way to reclaim some time for yourself. I once read that you should always try to have 3 things in life: something to make money, something to challenge you, and a creative outlet. Some people are lucky enough to have all 3 fulfilled by their job, but if that isn’t the case then there’s no need to worry – you just need to find a way to bring them into other parts of your life. Last Christmas, I was given the most beautiful set of watercolour paints and brushes, and I’m going to start making sure I nourish my creativity by bringing them out at least once a week to practice my painting skills.
For loads of hobby inspiration and fantastic online classes/tutorials, check out Creativebug!
4. Invest in a diary/planner and actually use it
I sometimes feel that my weeks slip by so quickly, most probably because I’m doing pretty much the same thing every day, and I rarely feel like I’ve achieved anything (non-work related, anyway). This is sad, because I’m sure I DO achieve stuff – I just either forget about it, or what I do is so boring that it doesn’t feel worthwhile or fulfilling. I’ve already spoken about making my week more purposeful, but to keep track of the changes I’m making, I’m going to start using a weekly planner. This will not only allow me to look back on my week and see how much I’ve done, but will also help me to feel more organised and in control of my life. It might even make me more productive, as we all know there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking something off your to-do list (if you’re as easily pleased as me, anyway).
5. Make time for exercise (even just a little bit)
Particularly if you work in an office job like me, exercise is incredibly important, and – according to the experts – we should ideally be getting in at least 2 hours of ‘moderate’ activity each week. Exercise boosts metabolism and releases endorphins, so it’s important to fit as much as you can manage into your schedule. I love how I’m saying this as if I’m some kind of fitness guru, when in reality I have been known to kick the wall of the gym out of anger and am currently on day 5 of aching because I played 2 games of rounders on Saturday. Tragic. However, I realise that my attitude towards exercise needs to change, so after much research, I’ve downloaded an app called ‘Couch to 5K‘. It’s a programme designed to get complete novices (like me) running 5K or for 30 minutes non-stop over a 9 week period. It starts off with a mixture of running/walking, increasing the running bit gradually as your fitness level grows. I love the idea, as all I need is a pair of running shoes and the free app, and I’m good to go. I might even write a post in a few weeks letting you know how I’m getting on (with gross, sweaty pictures if you’re lucky!).
6. Give purpose to your wasteful commute
If there’s one thing I hate in life, it’s the feeling that my time is wasted. I’ve actually developed quite serious travel anxiety when it comes to my commute, where I panic and become extremely upset if I’m even slightly delayed on the way home. I think it’s because I already feel that my day is being eaten into by hour-long train journey to and from work, so any more just pushes me over the edge. I’ve been trying to combat this one for a while, and the best technique I’ve found is to use that valuable time to do something worthwhile – taking my kindle with me and reading a book, for example, rather than just listening to music. I also like to plan blogs, watch documentaries on iPlayer, and use it as ‘life admin’ time where I make boring-but-necessary phone calls. I’m going to keep pushing myself to do this, as it makes me feel super productive (and I love looking all sassy planning my blogs on the train like someone really busy and important).
7. Bring life and personality to your workplace
As well as looking at improving your lifestyle outside of work, it only makes sense to take a few steps to make your workplace as enjoyable as possible. I went through a stage where I didn’t care what I looked like at work because it was ‘just work’, but this meant that I was spending 5 days a week not dressing or feeling like myself. Since I started wearing my favourite clothes to work (rather than ‘saving them for the weekend’) and taking a bit of time to do my makeup each morning, I see work as somewhere I can be myself, and have a far more positive outlook in general. I’m going to take what I’ve learned from this, and apply it to the environment I work in too – I spend hours pouring over Pinterest boards for office interiors, wishing I had an office to decorate, when I spend 8 hours at a desk every single day! Even the littlest things could make a difference, such as investing in some pretty stationary that I’ll look forward to using, and putting up some cute photographs/postcards to make it feel like home.
8. Challenge your perspective on happiness
It’s easy to see work as something that isn’t really ‘you’. Perhaps it isn’t your dream job or a role you see yourself doing permanently, but the reality is that you probably have to spend a large proportion of your life there. I’ve learnt that, if you live your life with the attitude that ‘I’ll be happy when ____ happens’ rather than focusing on finding happiness in what you have now, your life will feel wasted. It’s fine to have aspirations (brilliant, actually!) but they shouldn’t stop you from being at peace with things as they are. Nothing in life is guaranteed, so if you’re pinning your happiness on one ultimate goal, how do you know you’ll ever be happy? Instead, try to widen your view on things and release some of the pressure you put on yourself – smaller, achievable goals are more rewarding, and will allow you to build up happiness for a healthier and more mindful lifestyle. If you can start to see your work life through these eyes, then you just might find that Monday morning doesn’t seem so bad all of a sudden!
Do you ever find yourself wishing the week away? If you do, are you planning to try any of these tips? I’d love to hear your suggestions for other things I can add to my action plan too, as this is something I genuinely want to improve about my life!