This is a special guest post brought to you by the editors of Prevention magazine. (As soon as I read it, I knew I had to share it!)

Come Friday, we’re ready to relax and recharge—but too many of us sabotage our weekends by cramming in a month of chores or going zombie in front of the TV. Either way, the weekend is a bust.

If you want to feel truly refreshed by Monday morning, take to heart the findings from one study showing that in addition to eating, relaxing and sex, women enjoy themselves MOST when they’re socializing, engaging in spiritual activities and exercising. In the June issue of Prevention magazine (on newsstands now), Editors worked together to create the “Rule of Three” to help make the most of your weekend by mapping out activities, leaving you recharged and ready to face that manic Monday.

Outlined below is each rule and how to incorporate them into your lives, as well as, tips to help your weekends go from hectic to happy!

Rule 1: Use Your Social Network

· Even if you cherish “just for me” time, organize at least one weekend endeavor where you can bring along a friend. Feeling connected and loved are among the biggest predictors of happiness.

· Socializing encourages us to spend our time and money on experiences, which research shows makes us happier than material objects.

· So plan a Saturday-night outing to a play you’ve read about, or sign up for a cooking class with a pal. You’ll enjoy the advantages for weeks or months to come.

Rule 2: Try Soul Food

· The more frequently that people attend religious services, the more content they are.

· Faith and prayer regardless of religion, satisfy a basic need to feel part of something bigger than ourselves.

· It turns out that volunteering can have a similar effect. People derive a lot of pleasure from helping others.

· Also try meditation or a restorative yoga class instead. Research shows that spiritual practices, such as regular mindfulness exercises, can actually change brain structure in a way that promotes a sense of well-being.

Rule 3: Break a Sweat

· Exercise sparks the release of feel-good endorphins, but it also satisfies something more profound: the human need to perform and excel.

· Although any fitness activity you enjoy is good you’ll enhance its benefits even more by taking it outdoors.

· Studies find that people who exercised outside felt more energetic and were more inclined to keep at it.

Power Up Your Pleasure

Compress your chores. To avoid having your to-do list take over, carve out 2- to 3- hour blocks for errands. Also consider whether there are things you can outsource—or ignore.

Unplug. After a week of making decisions, channel surfing can seem like just what the doctor ordered, but TV is less enjoyable then we think. One study found that unhappy people watch 30% more TV than very happy people. Limit your web surfing too, since it comes with the added peril of checking work e-mail, which may invite stress into your time off.

Rethink Sunday night. A new study shows we remember unpleasant experiences as significantly worse if we expect them to recur, which may explain why so many of us ruin Sunday evening by dreading the week ahead. Instead, plan one of your Rule of Three activities for Sunday night: You’ll fall asleep with a fond new memory, not a crash of nerves.

I can totally relate to this piece, and “that Sunday feeling” is a frequently used expression with my family and friends. What advice will I take to heart? Well, I’m not so good at the unplugging thing, but this weekend I will try to “use my social network” (considering I’ll have more than 20 people at Maggie’s birthday party Saturday night, I think I have that one covered), and attend a religious service (as I do almost every Sunday).

I can’t guarantee a relaxed beginning to the work week this time around, though. One acronym sums it up: EQAO. (In a nutshell: my class begins their provincial standardized testing on Monday, and when the results come out in September, the world can decide if I am a good teacher or not. No pressure. Okay, maybe “the world” is stretching it, but still. Don’t get me started.)

For more, check out the latest issue of Prevention magazine, on stands now.

1 comment on “Love Your Weekends Again!”

  1. I love this post. Thanks so much for sharing it! I will try to make better use of my weekends, too often a whole Saturday is taken up with errands and cleaning!

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