Maybe you don’t have a traditional workweek, or you work weekends. Maybe you even work seasonally or are retired. Whatever your work life is like, one thing is almost guaranteed to be certain: you wish you had more vacation time. What if you could give yourself the refreshment of a vacation without changing your work schedule or requesting more time off?
That sensation of needing a vacation after your vacation is all too familiar. When vacations are few and far between, the tendency to jam-pack the vacations with busyness from travel and outings and activities gets the best of all of us; and before we know it, it’s time to go back to our regularly scheduled programs, exhausted. A new study tested a hypothesis to see if we could feel like we’ve gotten a vacation by simply changing our mindset on the weekends we already have.
If your weekends are like mine, then weekends are usually very busy, tying up all the loose ends from the previous week and prepping for the week ahead. In an experiment published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal last summer, people who were verbally told to treat their weekend like a vacation (instead of a regular weekend) gained more satisfaction with their time off and came back refreshed on Monday.
If that seems too good to be true, consider this: in the study, 414 people employed full-time in a 40+ hour workweek were divided into two groups. One group was told to really focus on being present with all the moments in their weekend and to mentally tell themselves it was a 2-day vacation. The other group just went about their weekend as they normally would.
Those who changed their mindset going into the weekend and made more of an effort to be present in the moment came back to work Monday feeling happier and more refreshed. They chose to spend the weekend on more recreational activities rather than housework—but it wasn’t just about what activities they chose to do. The control group did many of the same activities as the vacationing weekenders did, but the real difference was in the decision to spend more time being present in the moment.
With this upcoming weekend, challenge yourself to be more present in the moment and use the verbal and mental prompt to “treat this weekend like a vacation.” You may be surprised at how much a 2-day break can improve your outlook when that alarm starts ringing on Monday morning.
Colin West, C. (n.d.). Happiness From Treating the Weekend Like a Vacation – Colin West, Cassie Mogilner, Sanford E. DeVoe, 2020. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550620916080