5 Ways To Achieve Weekend Relaxation : Life Kit So many weekends get filled up with too many errands, plans, and, yes, work. Never getting time to relax means feeling like a zombie come Monday. Say no to burnout by making your two days off into a mini vacation with relaxation techniques and tips to unplug.
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How To Have A Good Weekend

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How To Have A Good Weekend

How To Have A Good Weekend

How To Have A Good Weekend

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NPR's Sam Sanders helps Chloe Schofield, a busy special education teacher, transform her weekend into a relaxing mini-vacation at Huntington Dog Beach in Huntington Beach, Calif. Morgan Walker for NPR hide caption

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Morgan Walker for NPR

NPR's Sam Sanders helps Chloe Schofield, a busy special education teacher, transform her weekend into a relaxing mini-vacation at Huntington Dog Beach in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Morgan Walker for NPR

Americans are pretty stressed out. And we don't know how to relax. A recent Gallup study found that a majority of Americans (55%) said they were more angry, stressed and worried in 2018 than they have been at most points during the decade. And several other Gallup studies found that Americans are consistently more likely to be stressed and worried than much of the world.

On top of that, Americans don't relax enough and enjoy their leisure time enough — two things that could help reduce those anxiety levels. One recent study found that just over a quarter of Americans plan to use all their vacation days. The rest of us — most of us — never do.

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So what's the fix? Maybe it's making the best use of the potential leisure time we do have, particularly our weekends. It feels like a lot of us just use Saturday and Sunday to catch up on work and sleep, but there are ways to maximize that weekend time to head back to work on Monday feeling more energized and happier.

Below are some relaxation tips and a few hints on how to have a good weekend, courtesy of Anna Borges, senior editor at SELF and author of the book The "More or Less" Definitive Guide to Self-Care, and Cassie Mogilner Holmes, associate professor of marketing and behavioral decision making at UCLA's Anderson School of Management.

1. Take some time away from your phone!

Anna Borges calls it "screen/life balance." She says rules for phone use over the weekend can be helpful. Maybe checking your phone for texts or emails only once an hour, instead of all the time. Or turning off push notifications on your phone when you're not working. If you want to be really bold, try leaving your phone at home during certain weekend activities, or even leaving it on airplane mode during brunch or a hang with friends.

Chloe Schofield often works 12-hour-days during the workweek and has trouble unplugging on weekends. NPR's Sam Sanders gave her tips on how to really relax on her days off. One of those tips included putting her phone in airplane mode while at Huntington Dog Beach in Huntington Beach, Calif. Morgan Walker for NPR hide caption

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Morgan Walker for NPR

Chloe Schofield often works 12-hour-days during the workweek and has trouble unplugging on weekends. NPR's Sam Sanders gave her tips on how to really relax on her days off. One of those tips included putting her phone in airplane mode while at Huntington Dog Beach in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Morgan Walker for NPR

2. Stay in the moment!

Find ways to make your mind focus on where you are in the moment, what you're doing right then and there, and what it all feels like. Borges recommends something called the "five senses meditation." To do this, you get still and focus on what you're sensing. Notice five things you can see. Then four that you can feel. Three that you can hear. Two you can taste. One you can smell. Thinking about those senses and what you're experiencing can help you settle the mind and relax. And you don't have to follow that playbook exactly, Borges says. "Whatever you want to do with the five senses ... just count them down."

Paying attention to small details about the surrounding environment, like these dog paw prints on the beach, can help you feel more present in the moment — and more relaxed. Morgan Walker for NPR hide caption

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Morgan Walker for NPR

Paying attention to small details about the surrounding environment, like these dog paw prints on the beach, can help you feel more present in the moment — and more relaxed.

Morgan Walker for NPR

3. Try treating your weekend like a mini-vacation.

Cassie Mogilner-Holmes says treating our weekends like mini-vacations actually changes our behaviors. People who do this stay in bed a little longer, or cuddle with their special someone a little more, or spend a little more time eating and less time on housework and job responsibilities. Mollinger Holmes says the weekend-as-vacation mindset helps you be more connected to the present moment. "Time," she says, "kind of stops a bit... It's like you're finally taking a breath."

Treating your days off like a mini-vacation, for instance exploring a new place, can help your weekend feel longer. Morgan Walker for NPR hide caption

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Morgan Walker for NPR

Treating your days off like a mini-vacation, for instance exploring a new place, can help your weekend feel longer.

Morgan Walker for NPR

4. Beat the "Sunday scaries" by planning something fun, for the end of your weekend!

Mogilner Holmes says a lot of us fall into the trap of saving weekend work we have to complete for Sunday evening, which means the last part of our weekends can be pretty stressful and feel a lot like, well, Monday. To avoid those "Sunday scaries," maybe get those few hours of work done at some other point during the weekend, so that the last thing you do during your weekend can be something actually fun. It'll make the start of the next week that much better.

Planning something fun for the end of the weekend can help you avoid the "Sunday scaries." Morgan Walker for NPR hide caption

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Morgan Walker for NPR

Planning something fun for the end of the weekend can help you avoid the "Sunday scaries."

Morgan Walker for NPR

5. Focus on making new memories, rather than just rehashing the workweek.

To make the most of quality time with friends and loved ones, make it a point to talk about work as little as possible. Borges says we should reframe our hangouts: stop viewing them as opportunities to catch up, but instead as opportunities to make new memories and learn things about the people you care about that you didn't know before. Ask questions that go beyond "how was your week?" Maybe ask your friends to tell you a memory of their first date, or the story of their favorite song and why they love it, or what superhero they'd be and why. ANYTHING but work.

To hear more great advice from these experts, and experience Sam Sanders making over the weekend of listener Chloe Schofield, listen to the podcast episode.