Don’t squander your day off.

We all look forward to our days off. Whether it’s a weekend, a personal day, or vacation, we count the hours until we finally get a stretch of free time and can make it a relaxing day. Unfortunately, days off often fail to live up to our expectations. Have you ever returned to the office feeling sluggish and frazzled – more in need of another break than ready to tackle the newest challenge? Read on to get a few tips and things to do on your day off to really recharge.

1. Handle those errands!

Sure, days off are for relaxing and having fun – and yet the reality is that most of us have unavoidable things to do on your day off, like an errand or two. I recommend making a list of annoying errands and compressing them into a single block of time. Maybe you dedicate the morning hours between nine and 11AM to straightening up the house, tackling laundry and making the grocery shopping list. Batching these unavoidable tasks can help you keep your life on track and will also prevent the errands from taking over your entire day.

2. Get yourself moving.

One of the best things to do on your day off is to get up and go! Physical movement is a fantastic tool for getting in touch with your senses. It can also strengthen your muscles, reduce certain health risks and boost your mood. If you enjoy working out at the gym or biking – great! If not, remember that any movement is better that being stationary. The research done by National Geographic Blue Zones project has demonstrated that something as low-impact as gentle walking can have a tremendous impact on both longevity and quality of life.

3. Respect your way of recharging.

Some of us are energized when we join a large group of friends and family, while others need some alone time to reset and relax. No matter which one is true for you, know yourself in order to have a nice relaxing day. Don’t let others pressure you into “relaxing” in a way that is actually stressful for you.

4. Eat well.

It’s easy to eat well during the workweek – between cooking at home and taking lunch to the office, we can often manage to keep our choices reasonably healthy. However, many of us fall off the wagon on weekends by overindulging. While there is nothing wrong with an occasional decadent meal or sumptuous dessert, keep in mind that your body’s chemistry does not check out on your days off! Pay attention to how different foods make you feel, and remember that there is a price to pay for going off the deep end.

5. Prepare for the morning.

This may not be one of the most fun things to do on your day off, but think about the little ways you can make your next work morning smoother, and take care of the basics in advance. This might mean cleaning up the kitchen, preparing and setting the coffee maker, or packing lunch. Anything that takes just a few extra minutes on your day off and creates space on a busy morning is a good thing.

6. Take a nap.

Taking a nap effectively breaks up your relaxing day into two days off – how is that for a bonus? Many studies point to the benefits of a short nap, including improved attention span, better stress management and a sense of being more present. Keep it to 20-30 minutes to get the optimal benefit.

7. Watch your stimulant and alcohol use.

Whether we are tired, stressed, relaxed or celebrating, we often reach for caffeine or alcohol. While most people will find that there is nothing wrong with enjoying those in moderation, excessive reliance can lead to health issues down the line. If you’re reaching for your fourth espresso of the day because you’re feeling sluggish, perhaps a drink of water, a brisk walk or some sleep might better address the underlying cause.

8. Build in a treat.

Make your relaxing day feel a little more special by taking a bath or an extra-long shower, enjoying a delicious snack, or curling up with a book. Even if you can’t spend the entire day doing what you love, don’t let that hold you back from dedicating a half hour to simple pleasures that make you smile.

9. Lastly, do what you can to unplug and enjoy the day.

That can be trickier than it sounds, because FOMO, or the infamous fear of missing out, can drive us to remain glued to our social media feeds and emails even on relaxing days that are meant to be just for us. This is a tough addiction to break. However, if you feel that you pay more attention to your digital devices than to friends and family, or if you sense that your phone is interfering with your ability to enjoy your time off, it may be high time for an intervention.

Let’s say you’ve made a decision to chill at home for the evening with a simple meal of roasted chicken and vegetables. As you’re seasoning the bird for that extra-crunchy finish and washing carrots, you decide to take a quick look at your Facebook feed. In the next 30 seconds, you learn that one of your friends is at a Beyonce concert. Another one is at the newest restaurant about to dig into a Napoletana pizza with mozzarella di buffalo and fried capers (expensive bottle of wine placed strategically in the background of the Intagrammable shot for extra points). Someone else you barely know (but who is in your feed anyways) is enjoying a beach bonfire.

Unless you have the serenity of a Buddhist monk, that brief scroll through Facebook will probably make you seriously question your own life choices of things to do on your day off. All of a sudden, you may find yourself wishing you were somewhere else doing something more exciting than peeling vegetables. Your quiet evening at home is no longer a treat, but a poor choice that won’t win you likes in your newsfeed.

Can you take your life back from FOMO? Yes, you can. The first step is to notice what’s happening. The second step is to recognize that the perpetual comparison game is not winnable – in fact, it’s costing you peace and presence right now. The third step is to strategically manage your exposure to newsfeeds. This is particularly important on your days off from work, when your choices should reflect your own preferences - not score you points in a popularity contest.

It may be impossible to eradicate FOMO completely, but you do have the power to minimize it. Designating a somewhat distant plug-in location for my cell phone has done wonders for me. Try keeping your phone off the table at meal time, and charge it outside of your bedroom so you are not tempted to do that last scroll at 11:45PM. Or, if you’re like me and do not handle moderation well, you might try a week-long social media fast to break your habit of perpetual scrolling. There are many tips and tricks you could try to wean yourself off, so find the mix that will help you stay present and enjoy where you are.

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