The weekends always feel like they slip away a little too quickly. Relaxation time goes by much quicker than work days, whether it’s an extended three-day or regular two-day weekend. While there’s no magical way to extend every weekend, there are some ways to take advantage of your time off work and make your weekends feel more fulfilling.

Family physician Dr. Mike Sevilla says weekends are more important than you realize. He says people need space and time to recharge and relax their minds and body after a long work week. Associate professor in management and human resources Tracy Dumas echoed Sevilla’s sentiments, saying that any break from work, whether a vacation or weekend, even evenings after work, is vital for recovery.

Dumas added that recovery is a word used by organizational psychologists to describe the theory of refilling reserves depleted by efforts expended at work, like how athletes need to recover and rest after challenging workouts. Here are some ways to optimize your recovery time and make the most of your weekends.

Plan out your time.

You can make the most of your weekends by planning to participate in activities you like. Creating a schedule for your weekend can assist you with following through with the activities you want to do. This way, you don’t get to Sunday night feeling disappointed with the things that you did or didn’t do. Consider this: you’re more likely to go on that bike ride if you rent the bike ahead of time or plan to go with a friend.

While planning things out might not physically make your weekend longer, having planned activities you’re looking forward to can make you feel like you took advantage of your time. A bonus of planning things is you have something to look forward to during your busy workweek.

Find a hobby and curb your screen time.

It’s common to feel like time flies when you scroll on Instagram or sit to watch an hour-long show. Studies revealed that people who spend their time on social media could experience a warped sense of time, often questioning how it passed so quickly.

Watching television and social media over the weekend is fine, but try to limit it. Taking a break from looking at social media and TV is an excellent way to reconnect with things that you enjoy on your days off. For example, you could go back to a hobby you haven’t done in a while, like reading or going for a walk. You could also take the time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

Try activities that differ from your day-to-day work.

You might enjoy doing things that require a completely different set of sources than your work. In other words, if your job is very technical, spend your weekend doing an activity that uses a different skill set. For example, you could try playing kickball or playing an instrument. On the other hand, if your work is more creative, you should avoid activities like creating or writing on your days off and trying something different. This way, you’re not reminded of your work while trying to enjoy your weekend.

Avoid working.

Allow work to be something you do during the work, not on the weekends. Distancing yourself from work during the weekend is essential. Worrying about work spoils those valuable weekend minutes you could spend with family or friends. Keeping work out of sight and mind can help extend your weekend. Keeping work off your mind could mean disabling your work email, turning off your work phone and putting your work laptop away, so you’re not reminded of an impending deadline while relaxing on the couch.

Try to balance going out and resting.

Rest is essential, but staying in bed or on the sofa all weekend isn’t as beneficial. If you spend too much time resting during the weekend, time will fly. How often have you laid down for a short nap and woke up hours later? You’ll feel best when you combine rest with an activity that you find stimulating or enjoyable.

Specifically, participating in mastery activities, where you learn something new, helps you gain more energy. Also, if you find these activities inspiring, you’ll go to work on Monday with that same energy and be in a better mood because of your fabulous weekend experience.

Stay in the moment.

It’s easier said than done, but if you can stay in the moment during your precious days off, you’ll enjoy your weekend more. Studies show that people who practice meditation and mindfulness experience a slower time rate. If your mind wanders to an upcoming meeting or an email you sent last week, try to ground yourself at that moment.

You can ground yourself anytime and anywhere using your senses. To start, name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Once you’re back in the moment, you can intentionally move forward with things that make you happy, and who doesn’t want to feel satisfied throughout a slow-moving weekend?

Fight the Sunday scaries.

It’s common to experience the Sunday dread or anticipate anxiety for the week ahead. To beat the scaries, go for a walk or run, practice slow deep breathing, or discuss your upcoming week with your spouse, significant other, or family. Doing so will give you a reality check.

Weekends are the treasured time you look forward to during your work week. However, sometimes the weekends feel like they go by too quickly, even if it’s an extended three-day weekend. The key to making your weekend last longer is doing things you enjoy while you’re away from work. It would also help to avoid thinking about work until Monday morning.

Another key to making your weekends feel longer is to avoid spending your weekend watching TV or lying on the couch. You can do it for a little while, but try not to do it for the entire weekend. Enjoy your time off as much as possible because it’ll be Monday morning before you know it.

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