The Healing Power of a Weekend

Posted August 13, 2013 by Marcy Twete in Life After Five

It happened early in my career, not in my first job out of college, but my second. I started working weekends. In some ways, working on the weekend became a sanctuary for me. I could get things done more quickly in the office when things were quiet and serene. I’d turn on some music and crank through my to-do list like butter. When everyone else was stressfully rushing through Wednesdays and Thursdays, I was calm because I knew I could put certain things on my list off to get done on Saturdays.

As my career continued, and especially upon being an entrepreneur, working on Saturday mornings became working on Saturday mornings and afternoons, and soon became Sunday evenings, then Sunday afternoons, and eventually I didn’t have a weekend at all. I may not always be in the office, but I’m always working – laptop on lap either on my couch, in my bed, or some random Starbucks in downtown Chicago.

A few weeks ago, I woke up to the fact that for the last 7+ years, I’d been working weekends almost 100% of the time. And while this practice used to be stress relieving, it had become the opposite. So I did some research and realized…I needed a weekend! Why?

The Origins of the Modern “Weekend”

It turns out Americans (and most other Western countries) didn’t take weekends off until the early 1920’s (admittedly, this information is from various pages of Wikipedia, but I surmise it to be true). My friends at Yahoo! Voices say:

The move toward the two day weekend Americans expect today began during the 1920s when only working a half day on Saturday became acceptable and eventually the norm. While it took a few thousand years to get even that little break, it only took a few years for the full two day weekend to become customary in America.

Why You Need a Weekend, Too!

  • Sharpen the saw! A regular reminder from my personal coach, Beth, you always need to “sharpen the saw.” If you spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week sawing away at your life and your career, you’re going to get dull, sister! Take some time off to sharpen the saw, rest, and ensure you have the endurance to move into next week.
  • Because a clean house and stocked fridge contributes heavily to your stress level. Somehow I wake up on Wednesday morning every week and realize we have NO FOOD! Why? Because I don’t have a weekend. This weekend, I took my first real weekend in a long time, and guess what? My house is clean, and after a Target run, my fridge is stocked. Feels good!
  • Sleep schedules ruined. What I’d find when I wasn’t taking a real weekend was that I’d stay up later and later on Friday and Saturday nights to make up for the fact that I was in the office late that day. It was as if I was trying to pack in a weekend even though I’d already squandered mine in the office. But that kind of sleep pattern disrupts your sleep during the week. Try, on the weekends, to go to bed at similar times you do during the week and you’ll perhaps kick that insomniac’s pattern.

If you’re like me and lack regular weekends, I implore you to take one. After taking this weekend to “sharpen the saw” (although, admittedly, I’m still writing this post on Sunday evening), I feel 100% better and more committed to taking weekends seriously from here on out.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."