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Working for the Weekend? How to Keep Your Quarantine Days from All Feeling the Same

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collection of books, markers, papers and headphones

Most of us are staying home now — all the time. Sometimes that feels magical, and sometimes it feels like a special kind of torture. One of the things that makes quarantine so difficult is that, when we don’t change up our routine every so often, we can feel like we’re on a hamster wheel. It doesn’t feel like we’re getting anywhere. It doesn’t feel like life has purpose.

In regular, non-quarantine life, differentiating between the days usually happens naturally. On weekdays, we go to work. On weekends, we rest. Seasons change. Holidays help us mark the passage of time, cueing us to focus on both hope for the future and reflection on the past. We still have those things, to some extent, but the lines are being blurred to much for most of us, and we’re losing distinction and focus.

The good news is, there are things we can do to draw those lines back in. When it comes to the days of the week, mostly this means changing up our routines on purpose so we’re doing things that “feel” like a weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Here are a few things that have been helping me:

Change Your Look

You’ve probably already heard people say you should get dressed during the week instead of hanging around in your pajamas, and you’ve probably already rolled your eyes. I get it that. I’ve been getting dressed like I would for work on the weekdays because it really does help me, but you don’t even have to do that — just choose something different. Maybe wear yoga pants during the week, but only allow yourself sweats on the weekends. Or maybe pull out your favorite cozy sweatshirt only on Saturdays and Sundays. It doesn’t have to be much — just something to look forward to and to signify to your brain that something is special.

Go Someplace

Social distancing is still important, but if you can find a park or trail that will allow you to keep that distance, explore it. My husband and I went on a hike last weekend, and even though we had to drive a little farther out of town than we normally would because all our normal spots are overrun with people, it really helped the weekend feel different.

Only Work on Weekdays

If you’re working remote, it can be tempting to get through some work on the weekends, especially if work helps you focus on something other than your current situation (sometimes it does that for me). If there’s too much work to walk away for the whole weekend, even taking one Sabbath day on Saturday or Sunday can be enough of a reset to approach next week fresh.

Embrace Brunch

It doesn’t have to be brunch, but having a different breakfast on weekends is a good way to signal to your brain that it is a weekend. Maybe you order in or buy brunch curbside to support a local business. Maybe you make a big pancake breakfast. For me, it can be as simple as having avocado toast on a Sunday because that’s something I usually wouldn’t have during the week.

Plan a Movie, Not a Binge

Watching a movie feels different than binging on a bunch of episodes of Netflix. There’s a beginning and end to a movie (as opposed to episodic TV that’s designed to keep us on the hook for the next episode), so we react to the story differently. It also provides a sense of finality, so the natural inclination when it’s over is to get off the couch instead of settling in for the rest of the day. Go a step further and get some good movie snacks together; since we can’t go to a theater, make the experience feel as theater-like as possible.

Take a Social Media Sabbath

Yeah, I saved this one for last, because I know it’s the most difficult. But as much as we feel like social media helps us stay connected to each other, it also dials up our anxiety and make our days even more formulaic because we’re drawn into our phones instead of our lives. Putting the phone away (or even just turning off alerts) for even one day — or even just a few hours of the day, like Saturday or Sunday morning — can have a hugely positive impact on how we feel, both about the weekend and about ourselves.

Carrie Rollwagen is host of the Localist podcast author of The Localist, a book about buying from locally owned stores and cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Currently, she works as Vice President of Strategic Planning at Infomedia, a web development company in Birmingham, Alabama. Find her as @crollwagen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and most other social media platforms.

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