Home Optimal energy These small changes to your weekend routine will boost your week, according to brain science

These small changes to your weekend routine will boost your week, according to brain science

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If making small changes to your weekend routine could improve your productivity and mood over the coming week, would you do it? Research says it’s possible. The good news is that you don’t have to make huge changes or start doing things you might not like, like yoga or meditation (although if you like those things, they’re certainly good for you).

A few simple tweaks to how you spend your weekend can make a big difference for the week ahead, if you make those changes with brain science in mind. Try a few of these additions to your routine and see how they work for you.

1. Get enough sleep.

The importance of sleep to your brain health simply cannot be overstated. Sleep experts say most of us need at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night, even if we feel like we need less. Ideally, you should never be sleep deprived, which can affect everything from your mood to your leadership skills to your cognitive function. But if you fell behind on sleep during the week, be sure to use the weekend to catch up.

You can do this by going to bed late, but you don’t have to. Naps create great benefits for the brain, and the weekend can be the perfect time to take a nap.

2. Get out.

Spending time in nature benefits your brain and overall health in so many ways that in Japan it’s covered by health insurance. So unless the weather is completely awful, at least plan some time outdoors. Even 15 minutes in nature can make a measurable difference to your mood and outlook. You don’t need to travel in the wild to enjoy these benefits. A park where you are surrounded by trees and other plants also works.

3. Spend time with people you like.

Research shows that social isolation can shorten your life as much as smoking. When you’re working during the week, it can be difficult to spend as much time socializing with friends and family as you would like. So be sure to spend time over the weekend with the people you care about the most, whether it’s your spouse or partner, your parents, your children or your closest friends.

Research shows that loneliness can warp the way you think, and it also makes you more vulnerable to addiction. Whatever you do, don’t spend the whole weekend alone.

4. Plan your diet for the week.

Some people like to spend part of the weekend cooking or assembling make-ahead meals which they then store for quick access during the week. It’s a great idea if it’s something you enjoy, but less of a great idea if you see it as a dreaded chore.

With or without work on the stove, you should think about what you’ll be eating over the coming week if you want optimal mental function. The reason for this is that eating certain foods, especially carbohydrates, has a negative effect on brain function. They can make it difficult to stay alert and productive throughout the afternoon. So you should never have to depend on a sandwich and fries or the pastry tray in the break room to sustain you all day.

The key is to plan ahead. Make sure you have foods like fruits and nuts, as well as protein-rich options available when you need them. little habits Author BJ Fogg and his partner have a Sunday routine they call SuperFridge in which they fill glass containers in their refrigerator with foods like hard-boiled eggs and raw cut-up vegetables that they can grab quickly. Any variation on this theme that provides you with nutritious foods that you love to eat during the week, and especially during the work day, is good.

5. Do something fun outside of your normal routine.

This setting requires a bit of creativity, but it might be the nicest little change you can make. Psychologist Serena Simmons explains that changing up your daily routine has serious benefits for the brain. Our brains are “energy misers” that have evolved to operate on autopilot most of the time, following well-worn neural pathways from which we rarely emerge.

It’s a good idea to get yourself out of these neural pathways from time to time for several reasons. But here’s one of the most important: it will make your weekends more memorable and, if you break the routine with something fun, it will make them much more enjoyable. Think back to the last time you went on a weekend outing. I bet you remember much more clearly what you did on the outing than what you did for the rest of Saturday and Sunday. That’s because when you step off autopilot, more of your brain is awake and engaged. You will remember this part of your weekend better and face the week with your energy and creativity re-engaged.

There is a growing audience of Inc.com readers who receive a daily text from me with a micro-challenge or an idea for self-care or motivation. Often they text me back and we end up in a conversation. (Interested in joining? Here’s more information and an invitation to an extended free trial.) Many are entrepreneurs or business leaders, and they tell me how vital it is to approach the week of work feeling rested, alert and at your best. These few small changes can help you get there.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.