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Do you ever notice yourself feeling a little bummed out when the weekend comes? If so, you aren’t alone. The weekend is supposed to be filled with relaxation, enjoyment, and autonomy. But some people experience a drop in mood at some point during the weekend. Ennui is a French word for listlessness and dissatisfaction, and it describes what I see some clients present during session.
We often think of the weekend as a respite from the stress of the work week. Weekends and the anticipation of them have long been held as a period of time full of possibility and enjoyment. But, weekends while seeming to offer an abundance of free time, can be difficult for some because of the lack of structure.
The work week provides a structure with defined roles, expectations, and rules of engagement. We know where we are supposed to be, what we are expected to be doing, and even what we are meant to wear. Decisions are made based upon an agreed upon time frame. For example, you don’t typically wear sweatpants to the office, but on the weekend, you have to decide on how to dress to go to the grocery store.
This weekend drop in mood or what I like to call “ennui-kend” may be due to being overwhelmed by choices. From the vantage point of Tuesday, we say “I will do this and this on the weekend”. When the weekend arrives, we have our “to do list” to get through, and what seems like an infinite amount of free time.
Ennui-kenders can get stuck in deciding which action to take next when the weekend finally rolls around. This feeling of being overwhelmed can lead to a host of other maladies: FOMO (fear of missing out), a sense of loneliness, and self-berating (“I had all of these errands to do, and all I’ve done is sit and watch Netflix”)
Holding a dichotomous view of the week/weekend split can set us up for a tough transition into the weekend. The notion that “when the weekend finally arrives, I will be able to relax” leads to building up unrealistic expectations of the weekend, and then leads to disappointment.
Those who experience ennui-kend can benefit from planning ahead of time with an emphasis on how one wants to feel on the weekend as opposed to what to do.
Here are steps to consider if you suffer from ennui-kend:
- Plan for the weekend. Take a moment to think about how you want to feel during the weekend. If it is relaxation you seek, plan to do less. If the week has been uninspiring, but not stressful, plan an activity that seems exciting.
- Don’t put too many things to do on your weekend to-do list.
Be realistic about how much free time you have on the weekend. Though in mid-week, the weekend looks like a Shangri-la, realize that your hours are limited, and be selective for what you plan.
- Plan to meander. While mood may be stable during the work week, stress levels are likely higher due to deadlines and lack of sleep. Use the weekend for rest and relaxation, but also plan to meander. Take a walk, meditate, get comfortable with doing nothing for a while.
- Structure your weekend with optional plans as opposed to definite plans. This will require making plans with friends who you can be flexible with. Make loose plans that you can cancel if you are not feeling up to it. So much of our shared time can feel obligatory. (Don’t do this with potential dates if you are single and dating). Your primary goal for the weekend should be to consider how you want to feel.
- Remember, you are not a kid anymore. You don’t have to wait for dessert. Plan to do some activities you usually store for the weekend, during the week. You can even skip your vegetables. But, the idea of having dessert whenever you want to, can feel overwhelming and you may not trust your sense of discipline. Taking ownership of your weekend means creating structures that suit you, rather than operating from self-imposed “shoulds.”
Imran Riaz, PsyD – Imran is a psychologist in Washington D.C. who specializes in the treatment of anxiety and ADHD
Need help shaking off the weekend blues so that you can relax and have some fun and relax? We can help. You can contact us to make a counseling appointment. You can also get more information on our adult counseling page.