Me: Hey, how's it going?
Friend: Not bad, just looking forward to the weekend. How about you?
Me: Honestly, I'm feeling a little anxious about the weekend.
Friend: *laughs* What? Why? The weekend is supposed to be relaxing!
Me: I don't know I feel like I am doing nothing that a weekend is supposed to look like.
Friend: You are overthinking it like always. Just chill babe!
Me: Sighs! Ok, You tell me what are doing today?
That's how my conversations often end whenever I am trying to express that I feel weekend anxiety, the moment Friday evening ends. A lot of people feel like I am just trying to shove it to their faces that I love working, and they love having fun.
But it was only last year I understood what I was missing. It wasn't the weekend but the unstructured days that made me feel anxious and stressed. I wasn't planning what to do and this absence of a plan was causing trouble.
Let me explain about weekend anxiety
Weekends are supposed to be a time of relaxation and rejuvenation, a time to unwind and recharge after a long and stressful week. But for some people, weekends can actually be a source of anxiety and stress.
The thought of having two whole days without the structure and routine of the workweek can be daunting.
It's like being handed a blank canvas and told to create a masterpiece, but not knowing where to start.
Think of it like a rollercoaster. During the week, you're on a steady climb, steadily moving forward and making progress. But come Friday afternoon, you reach the top of the hill and suddenly you're plummeting down, hurtling towards the weekend with no idea what's in store.
Or, imagine you're a fish swimming in a fish tank. During the week, you're swimming in a straight line, following the same routine day in and day out.
But come Saturday morning, someone drops a new decoration in the tank and suddenly your whole world is turned upside down. You're not sure how to navigate around the new object and you start to feel anxious and stressed.
What does weekend anxiety look like?
Weekend anxiety can manifest in different ways for different people, but some common symptoms may include:
Worrying excessively about how to fill up the free time during the weekend.
Feeling stressed or overwhelmed about social obligations or events that are planned for the weekend.
Feeling guilty or unproductive if you do not have any plans for the weekend.
Having difficulty sleeping or feeling restless during the weekend.
Feeling isolated or lonely if you do not have anyone to spend the weekend with.
Feeling anxious about upcoming work or school obligations that you will have to face after the weekend.
Overall, weekend anxiety can be characterized by feelings of unease, restlessness, and worry that are specifically related to the weekend. If you are experiencing weekend anxiety, it may be helpful to talk to a mental health professional for guidance and support.
That's what was happening to me...
The neuroscience behind weekend anxiety
Weekend anxiety is often linked to the stress and pressure that people feel during the workweek. Here are a few ways in which neuroscience can help us understand the underlying mechanisms of weekend anxiety:
Stress hormones: When we experience stress, our bodies release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can help us respond to immediate threats, but chronic stress can lead to an overproduction of these hormones, which can cause anxiety and other negative effects on our health. If you experience high levels of stress during the workweek, this can carry over into the weekend and contribute to weekend anxiety.
Neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that help regulate mood and emotion. One neurotransmitter that is particularly relevant to anxiety is called GABA. GABA helps to calm the brain and reduce anxiety, but chronic stress can reduce the amount of GABA in the brain. This can make it harder to relax and feel at ease during the weekend.
Circadian rhythms: Our bodies have internal biological clocks that help regulate sleep, appetite, and other bodily functions. Disruptions to our circadian rhythms, such as staying up late or sleeping in on weekends, can cause jet lag-like symptoms that can contribute to weekend anxiety.
Reward pathways: Finally, the brain's reward pathways can play a role in weekend anxiety. During the workweek, we may be motivated by the reward of achieving our goals or receiving positive feedback. When the weekend comes and we have fewer obligations, we may feel a sense of aimlessness or lack of purpose that can trigger anxiety.
Overall, weekend anxiety is a complex phenomenon that can be influenced by a variety of biological, psychological, and social factors.
By understanding the neuroscience behind weekend anxiety, we can develop more effective strategies for managing these feelings and improving our overall well-being.
So, what can you do to combat weekend anxiety?
Just like riding a rollercoaster or swimming in a fish tank, it's all about finding your bearings and figuring out what works best for you. Here are a few tips that helped me get on track and not feel anxious about weekends.
💕 Make a plan: Instead of waking up on Saturday morning with no idea what to do, I started making a plan ahead of time. Whether it's scheduling a brunch date with friends or planning a DIY project at home, having this loose plan helped give me some structure, which alleviated anxiety.
💕 Practice self-care: Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself on the weekends is to simply take care of yourself. I prioritized my well-being by doing things I love. Whether it is binge-watching a Korean movie or going to the park with my daughter, I made sure I was doing something.
💕 Don't put too much pressure on yourself: Remember, the weekend doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to accomplish everything on your to-do list or have a jam-packed social calendar. For me, the best weekends are the ones where I do nothing and just take care of my mind and body by spending time with myself.
The key to overcoming weekend anxiety is to embrace the unknown and find joy in the journey.
Whether you're riding a rollercoaster, swimming in a fish tank, or just trying to make the most of your weekend, remember that it's all about finding your bearings and enjoying the ride.
So, are you ready?