So you come home. It’s Friday. And, at the end of a long hard week you just don’t seem to have the willpower to keep going with all those healthy habit changes. You decide to take the evening “off”. And, then, feeling tired Saturday morning, you decide that you really need more time to decompress so that day is also, “off”. Sunday comes around and you say, “Whatever. This weekend is already ruined. I’ll start fresh Monday.” Yes, ouch. After working so hard the majority of the week it stings to blow it on the weekend. But the solution isn’t will power, sweetheart.
This episode goes out during my spring break after a weekend I spent taking my archery team to State Championships in Albuquerque, NM. I’m a bit of an introvert and those events can be exhausting for me. Now, if you know any introverts or are one yourself, then you realize that the best way to recharge is to spend some serious time alone. However, that too can be difficult if you have a busy family or just a busy life. I know that I often sought comfort in food and gave up a lot of healthy practices because I just felt too tired. I bet you can relate. However blowing it on the weekend isn’t a sign that you lack will power. Not at all. It is a sign that other needs are not being met and that your mind has taken you to a place where you feel you don’t have a lot of choices.
How are you taking care of your basic body needs?
First things first: How are you doing on drinking water and getting enough sleep on your weekdays AND your weekends? I’ve now mentioned this a thousand times, but a dehydrated and sleep deprived body is typically packed full of the stress hormone cortisol. Also, when we are lacking our basic needs, the lower brain freaks out like a hangry toddler who needs a nap. It wants all the things and needs them NOW. And, at that point, you will totally lack the strength to stick to the healthy and less convenient choices to take care of yourself.
This reminds me of post-seizure days with my little girl. When she has a bad episode I still struggle to take good care of myself. And, since she has nocturnal and daytime seizures I am stressed to the max and incredibly sleep-deprived. In those situations I have three options: Option 1. I can talk to myself like this, “Power through and suck it up. No room for wimps around this joint. You know better than to let those healthy choices slide. God never gives you more than you can take.” Option 2: talk to myself like this, “This is too hard. There is no point in even trying. Whatever. Just eat the junk and do whatever you can to survive. We’ll figure this out later.” Or, thankfully, Option 3, “Okay, we are stressed and exhausted. What are three things we can do to take care of ourselves today? Remember, we’re not alone. God loves us and is with us and makes no mistakes. I’m resting in Him today. He’s got this.”
Obviously, only option three makes space to really address the situation and create opportunities for good self-care. Plus, it is simply the most realistic.
How do you think about your weekdays?
Next, consider, what are you thinking during the week? Most Americans are experiencing a lot of stress these days combined with increasing work demands and a looming recession. Throw demands from family, illnesses, and other complications and we have a lot on our plate. So, how do we think about all that? Our thoughts create our reality. I know this to be a fact. There is a world of difference between thinking the thought, “I have so much to do, it is more than I can handle, and no one appreciates me.” and the thought, “Everything will be fine, one foot in front of the other, I’m so thankful to be able to care for my family.” One thought increases and the other relieves pressure. During the weekdays if you harbor resentful, angry, fearful, worried, or defeated thoughts then you will need a way to heal on the weekend. One way to really help yourself on the weekends is to start to think about your weekdays with life-giving thoughts. THis isn’t something that will happen overnight. One practice that helped me turn it around is journaling. In fact, if you begin your day by listing 5 things your excited about happening that day and then end your day by listing 5 things you feel good about, your brain will begin to notice and look for positive aspects of your life instead of gravitating toward the sad or defeating element of your world to confirm you belief that the weekdays are awful. THen, when you make it to the weekend, you don’t have that feeling of needing to relax or decompress. You might want a change of pace but that could mean doing something with loved ones or for yourself that really refreshes and invigorates you.
Are there other things to look forward to on your weekend?
Apparently, another thing that many Americans are missing is a hobby. I mean, like a true hobby and not just TV, Social Media, or video games. Healthy hobbies usually encourage body movement or creativity. They get you out of your normal and help you see different aspects of the world God created and the people you do life with.
We are needy creatures. God created us to be multi-faceted. We don’t just have a single playing field. We are emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and relational beings. So, consider what you do every day during the week. Do you use your mind a lot? Then maybe it would feel nice to have a hobby that requires you to move your body. Do you work with people and deal a lot with emotions? Then perhaps some time alone doing devotional or Bible Study time would make your weekend feel like a true break.
Can you plan portioned and appropriate ways to decompress?
Lastly, we should have a plan. You might have great intentions and completely understand your emotional, mental, and physical state. However, inertia’s a real thing. It is hard to get going and get moving on taking care of yourself.
One of the best hacks I ever learned on the Internet was by a man named Michael Hyatt. In fact, read any of his books and you will be rewarded by amazing tips for managing time, work, and mindset. He recommended that hobbies and fun things should be scheduled in your calendar and protected the same as if you had an important meeting.
During my spring break, I have an entire day dedicated to organization of my home, an activity that I passionately adore. I am looking forward to it so much and you can believe I’ll be committed to protecting that time the same as if it were a doctor’s appointment or school event.
There, I hope you feel empowered. You see, willpower isn’t the issue. In fact, when you fail to address the issues we explored today and then decide to power through and be good on your weekend, then you’re just being unkind to yourself and eventually the dam will burst and your need for true self-care and helpful thoughts will burst through.
My suggestion is to pick one thing we talked about today and take seven days to implement it and see how much better you feel and strengthened to get through your week and your weekend with love, grace, and peace.
by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.