Motivation Monday: A True Day Off

Ever worked really hard for a few weeks in a row? A few days before this big influx of work you mentally prepare for it and then go-go-go the entire time during the peak period.  When it’s done you can’t believe it’s over, and as tired as you are, it feels really amazing to have accomplished so much, after all, you made it through hell!

And now that you have a day off, you don’t know what to do with yourself.

When you have yourself all geared up and focussed on accomplishing your goals, having a rare day off can actually induce stress.  Your brain has become wired to get it done at all costs and now that it’s all done, you still feel that there’s something missing.  It can be very difficult to ‘come down,’ and when the day off is over, you might feel as if you’ve wasted your one chance to truly relax.

So how can we turn all of this go-getter energy off and enjoy some much needed time to ourselves as we settle back into our normal workload routine?

Keep Doing

The stress and anxiety usually stem from the lack of accomplishment.  The best way to counter this is to actually accomplish some things.  Make a short list of things to do in the morning on your day off.  Let me emphasize the word short.  Get up and stick to your routine: Shower, have a good breakfast, make your bed, whatever you do in the morning when you are busy, and then accomplish that short list of tasks.

I usually make the short list about at-home tasks so that I don’t need to spend too much energy running around.  I’ll do laundry, dishes, clean; Whatever things I’ve put off at home while working.

This will give you that sense of accomplishment, like you’ve kept up your streak of being productive.  After this is all done, preferably around lunchtime, you can sit down and relax in the afternoon without feeling like you’ve wasted the day.  And really commit to relaxing.  Read a book, watch a movie, go spend time with friends; Do whatever it is you need to do to recharge a bit.

Schedule Your Time Off

If you’re a list person, a scheduler, a goal oriented individual, then you should set your schedule with big gaps just for relaxing.  Make the time off part of your routine for the day.  If you know you’re going to be productive at other times, you’ll feel better about enjoying some time for yourself.  This will also prevent you from feeling as if you’ve wasted the day.

If it helps, you can also write out your schedule for the day after your day off.  This often helps you see that you will have time to accomplish your goals without sacrificing your rest time, or feeling anxious about accomplishing tasks.


Even truly relaxing and letting go is a skill, and like any other skill, we have to practice to improve it.  We have to ‘work’ to strengthen the neural pathways of just letting go.  Find that thing that helps you relax, and do it when you can.  If it’s only 30 minutes a day, take the time for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.

Photo: Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

I have trouble with this at times.  Days off occasionally don’t feel restful, and even wasteful, but I’ve slowly learned to understand the importance of balance in work life.  It’s been especially hard because I have such a variable schedule, and don’t always have weekend days off.  This is actually part of the reason I started blogging every day.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment that I’m building my skills for writing, Astronomy, and Motivation, and it takes at most an hour a day.  After blogging on a lazy Saturday, and doing a few chores around the house, I feel like I can whittle away the afternoon without feeling guilty.

Just remember that we all have to work at things in areas of our life.  Find what works for you and do it everyday.  Just be sure to schedule a break once in awhile.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *