What do you do to feel less sad on the weekends?
March 8, 2020 11:33 AM   Subscribe

How do you stop feeling bad during a time that you're supposed to be happier?

I don't know what it is, but I often feel sad on the weekends. I work a M-F, 8-4:30 job and mostly have no problems after work going to my exercise classes or other things like working a side job (although it does give me anxiety sometimes.) I feel worse on the weekends despite being less busy and stressed with daily tasks. Work and being busy seems to make the feeling go away for awhile, but I'm afraid of burning out and it affecting my real job (I'm still new there).
FYI: I don't have a partner and have moved back home to save on bills, it's my goal to pay off debts/save for a house as they're fairly cheap here. Online dating give me aggravation/anxiety for many reasons and just makes me more sad. Forcing myself to deal with that is another question for another day.
How do you stop feeling sad during a time that you're supposed to be happier? I feel lazy and lame for this. What should I focus on and prioritize?
posted by greatalleycat to Work & Money (24 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not really seeing anything here about when you feel sad or why you think you feel sad. Just some facts about your life. Sometimes when we slow down and get less busy it gives the emotions and spirit a time to come to the front and say, "I have needs too". I would suggest you sit with the feeling for a bit, try to feel what you're feeling and not drown it in activity.

Some specific possibilities: Is there something you want to be spending time on that you're not? Are you worn out and need to let yourself collapse and rest a little? Do you want to take some quiet time to experience nature, to rest, to read or sleep extra, to be around other people?
posted by Lady Li at 11:43 AM on March 8, 2020 [5 favorites]

Do you know what you're sad about? That's the most important first step. Your brain is concerned about something, and it's not that that goes away when you're busy, it just gets de-prioritized. Just continuing to de-prioritize it forever isn't as good as figuring out what's wrong and addressing it. Some things it could be:
- something about your life that's not meeting your instinctive needs, like loneliness
- something that happened a long time ago that bothered you so much you're still processing it in the background. Bringing that processing into language can help it complete.
- a chemical imbalance that can be treated with medicine
A therapist's job is to work with you to figure out which combination of things is bothering you and how to make you feel better. There's also self help options if a therapist feels out of reach. But trying to fix something when you don't know what the cause is hardly ever going to work.
posted by bleep at 11:44 AM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Feeling sad isn't some disaster or personal flaw, by the way. It's information from your self. You don't need to run away from it.
posted by Lady Li at 11:44 AM on March 8, 2020 [20 favorites]

You talk about online dating but what about other aspects of social life? Do you have friends to do things with on the weekends or did you move away from where your friends are? If you're not hanging out with people whose company you enjoy on the weekends, that seems like a pretty big reason you could be getting sad. During times I was busy with work, I used to not schedule things on the weekend so I could have downtime, but I found I was often feeling blue by Saturday evening. Now I know that even on weekends where I'm tired and need rest, I should at least plan a low-key social thing or two.

If you don't have friends near where you're living, that could be a thing to focus on - meeting people and making friends.
posted by lunasol at 11:52 AM on March 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm sad due to general life disappointment, starting over in a entry-level position (needed the job, but it's going well) and not having or accomplishing what my peers have despite having similar qualifications. I'm also seemingly one of the last single person I know, my mom in her 60s got a bf quickly after not much trying and I'm too incompetent/messed up to do so. But I am not doing much about the last issue, so that is my fault. Not sure if I even want a relationship TBH.
posted by greatalleycat at 11:56 AM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you aren't doing anything social at all on the weekends, maybe try adding something. Sunday evenings in particularly for me are really sad - it's not that I'm dreading work it's just that loneliness really kicks in then. So tonight I have plans to go for a walk with a friend.
posted by bunderful at 12:00 PM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

In my experience just getting this stuff off my chest in a therapist's office helps me get rid of it. I think you could really benefit from hearing someone tell you that you're not incompetent or messed up for not having something you're not sure you even want. But you do feel dissatisfied so you owe it to yourself to figure out what it is you do want. Focusing on what you don't have is like saying to a taxi driver all the places you don't want to go. They can't use that information for anything.
posted by bleep at 12:01 PM on March 8, 2020

Please don't consider this advice, but to answer your question, I dated until I found someone I wanted to spend my life with. I've never handled being alone very well, but I also hate socializing. I like to have one person with whom I share an intimate connection, and I like that person to be around, even if we're not really paying attention to each other. I pursued this kind of a relationship, failed repeatedly, and finally met the woman I would marry and have children with. I'm very happy with my life now and can handle being alone for a weekend here and there when she visits family down in Cape Cod, but I'd struggle if she were away for more than a week.
posted by jwhite1979 at 12:13 PM on March 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

There's no reason to feel "lame and lazy" for feeling sad. Nobody's up all the time, or even most of the time. Often life is just "bleah," so go with it.
When i want to cheer up on the weekends, I watch disaster movies (no joke!) and decluttering videos on YouTube.
"... stop feeling sad during a time that you're supposed to be happier?"
"Supposed to?" That's someone else talking. Please don't compare your happiness levels to others.
You have no idea how many of us are faking it!
Spring is coming....
posted by BostonTerrier at 12:55 PM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

There's no point in sitting around comparing your life to others. That goes nowhere. Are you on social media? Reduce or eliminate your time on it. Few things are more depressing than a quiet weekend alone looking at other people's pictures of their babies, promotions, new houses, etc. Their lives aren't so simple either, but social media is such that it doesn't generally reflect reality. You have to decide what you want your reality to be and work towards that. Whether that means more socializing, a hobby, an old passion you just never had the time for, volunteering - you need to figure out what matters to you and pursue it. Forget about what everyone else is doing and focus on you. Do this with the help of a therapist, or on your own. The very worst option is to keep gloomily wondering why you are sad without any action beyond that. I mean that kindly and I wish you well.
posted by Crystal Fox at 1:03 PM on March 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

Hey, I feel for you. I think it is very common to feel sad on the weekends, actually, especially for people who are busy during the week but do not have many commitments after the work week is over. The general sadness of life / existential stuff as well as various personal disappointments just catch up with you.

As a fellow sad-on-the-weekends person, I deal with it in two ways:
I plan things to get me out of the house - not necessarily fun things, catching up on errands is also fine.
I take time to grieve whatever it is I am generally sad about.

This weekend I spent Saturday doing stuff and seeing family and Sunday just actively being sad. I let myself feel the sadness about the state of the world, and the uncertainty of the coming weeks, and various personal / job disappointments. What helps me through this is the knowledge that sadness is universal. There are people all over the world feeling sad right now, and when I sit with my sadness I realize I am not alone. I mope for a bit and then I get up and do a load of laundry and iron my work uniform for tomorrow.

I also used to vent to friends but I noticed it didn't really helped so I stopped. (Now I vent to myself so I always say the right things back ;)
Hugs, and feel free to message if you think venting to a stranger might help.
posted by M. at 1:18 PM on March 8, 2020 [13 favorites]

Me and another single friend (in our late 30s/mid-40s, both long-term single, not just between partners) recently compared notes and found we'd hit on the same solution to weekend ennui coincidentally and were both bowled over by how well it worked: Get up and go to an exercise class first thing on Saturday.

I am not a morning person. By any stretch. But I somehow tricked my brain into getting up at 8.30am on Saturday (super-early for me!) and being at a kettlebells class at 9am, and it totally changed the flavour of my whole day. The class itself was good because it was at a small community gym so slightly sociable but everyone was feeling morningish so nobody was trying too hard; there was some physical exercise involved which always makes you feel good; and it didn't require too much brain power, I could just do what I was told for 45 minutes.

But the really amazing thing was that then I'd leave, and it'd be 9.45am, and I'd be out and about, wandering around the shops near the gym, doing a few errands, getting lots of daylight, feeling smug that I'd already exercised and it was still early in the day. Getting home at noon having achieved all I needed to do that day and having mingled with people out and about felt unbelievably good. I felt like a fully-participating member of society. Sometimes I'd even treat myself to an afternoon nap as a reward and it was totally without guilt, because - get me - I'd been at the gym at 9am that morning. I just felt "plugged in" to the world, could see myself as a motivated, active person. It was magic. (This is past tense because I've been working loads at weekends recently and it's skewed my schedule all over the place but I'll back to it soon!).

That and sorting out some of the underlying life stuff that was eating at me, too. That, of course, is a long-term project, and not as easy as just being told "stop feeling sad about your life!" FWIW this previous answer of mine gives my thoughts on many years of being 'the single one' and how to survive it. Best of luck - you're not alone.
posted by penguin pie at 1:42 PM on March 8, 2020 [18 favorites]

Any chance your caffeine or calorie intake is different
on weekends? Caffeine withdrawal, low blood sugar, or blood sugar crashes after eating too much sugar can all feel like negative emotions. Maybe try matching your weekday diet and snacks- both in their content and their timing- for a weekend, to see if you feel more balanced.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 1:50 PM on March 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

There was a nice article about this in The Guardian a few weeks ago. There are some good bits in the thread on the blue about it, but also some pretty judgy stuff.

But yes, the only solution I have is to carry on, and know that you're not alone on this. (On not-preview, also agree strongly with nouvelle-personne about keeping the diet similar).
posted by ambrosen at 1:54 PM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

You are not supposed to be happier on the weekends. That is a myth.

I don't know if this is you, but me, I used to feel extrasad on the weekends because, according to many sources, the weekends are when the really successful people in life are the most happy because they're living the fun, action packed lives of successful people everywhere. Therefore, if I am anything less than delighted with life on the weekends, I am failing and doomed forever.

But there is no actual mandate anywhere that requires you to feel any particular way at any particular time, including on the weekend. You are free to feel sad on the weekend and not make the fact that you feel sad a reason to feel extrasad. The world is sometimes sad, and it is okay to be sad. Never to be sad on the weekends is... well, it's kind of off-putting. It's gross, really. Life is not a Mountain Dew commercial and people shouldn't act like it is.

Probably the reason your mom got a boyfriend effortlessly in two seconds is age-related. People 60+ are less capable of paying attention to societal harangues about how to be, plus they've aged out of a lot of them, anyway. Less is expected of them, and they happily expect less of themselves and don't second guess every move they make and can relax and have fun, which makes dating easy. You are probably, what, 30-something+/-? Prime age to be miserable and feel like a failure, which makes dating difficult. It is not YOU being lame. It is not HER being good at life. It is you both behaving predictably for people in your stages of life.

The cure for feeling extrasad may be to stop consuming anything that gives you the FOMO. Forget what all the Mountain Dew people are doing and concentrate on you. Pack your weekends with variety and many different aspects. This does not mean that you have to join anything or seek out others or god forbid "date." It's fine to do those things if and when you want to, but you don't have to do those things to be happy or to have a good weekend. All you really have to do is not sit in one spot for more than an hour or so because that way you will not be able to look back upon the weekend Sunday night and say, "Oh my god all I did the whole time was binge Nailed It." Do a few of the things you have to do and many things you like to do. Do them in different places.

Go on a walk outside and see how many animals you can see. Squirrels? Birds? Insects? Greet each one warmly. (Use mental telepathy, if you prefer not to speak aloud to animals while on a stroll.)

Try a new recipe with untried-before ingredients. If you make a baked good, you can take it to work Monday and share it around.

Do you happen to have any socks or sweaters or other knitted items with holes in them? Learn to darn. It's very easy, it's ridiculously rewarding, it's a good excuse to go to the craft store (best darning thread is embroidery floss, separated into two- or three-strand lengths), and it means that even if you do have a binge-heavy weekend, you'll have something to show for it after. Instructions for how to do it are all over YouTube and on the packaging for the darning egg you'll need, if you buy it new. If you like it a lot, who knows, you might graduate to knitting or crocheting or some other skilled handwork, but you don't have to. Darning is fun.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:18 PM on March 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

What are some things you would like to do on weekends that you're not doing? Seeing friends, brunch, going out for beverages, going to a museum or a concert? Working on a project you care about, or a hobby? A show you want to catch up on, a skill you want to learn? What I'm saying is, it may help to distract yourself by scheduling things you want to do including indulgent downtime.

With dating, I absolutely hear you as I'm similarly situated, and I'd suggest if you're burned out on trying to meet someone you click with romantically then maybe shift to trying to meet friends or finding activities you like - sports, gaming, art, whatever you're into there may be a local meetup or similar, or you can change your dating account settings to say you want to make friends - less pressure for both of you.

The other thing I would suggest is an antidepressant and getting your vitamin D levels checked. If you're really having trouble with your moods, meds can help put more of a bottom on that, and most of us working inside have low vitamin D which can seriously impact mood issues.

Good luck!
posted by bile and syntax at 2:37 PM on March 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

At the bottom of my life, when I had little physical or personal space, ear buds were a godsend. I would put on music (especially stuff that was quiet, wistful, and a little sad) and blot out all of the ambient noise that comes with being in a space that's not your own. I also became very big on collecting leaves, pebbles, and shells that had interesting shapes. I would arrange them at the end of the day. It was meditative, and also a way of making something beautiful without the pressure of building or accomplishing anything big. Constantly looking for treasures made walks less lonely, and gave me a little burst of dopamine every time I found one. I still carry a baggie with me in case I come across a cool bit of flotsam.
posted by batbat at 3:33 PM on March 8, 2020 [10 favorites]

You sound depressed. There are a number of self-screening-tests; here's one. Depression is an illness exacerbated by many attributes of the way we currently live, and it is generally treatable.

Work keeps you busy and makes you feel of value, and weekends sound isolated. Ways to change this? Exercise: Join an exercise class at adult ed or a gym. Ride a bike. Nature and Sunshine: See if there's a meetup group, or start one, for people to hike on the weekend. Take classes at Adult Ed.or a community college or Uni. Walk dogs for money or for an animal shelter. Can you get a garden plot through the town? Raise vegetables, learn to cook them; meet other gardeners. Batbat is right, music is a big help. Do you have hobbies? Find or start Meetup groups to share them, or watch movies. Libraries often have book groups.

You deserve happiness, joy, love, and/or whatever it is you seek. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 4:33 PM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

I force myself to go out for coffee. When I have an absorbing book to read, I do that. Believe me, I know the feeling. Be strong!!!!
posted by 8603 at 4:39 PM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

TLDR: comparing your love life to that of your parent's is likely an unfair comparison.

And now the stuff to skip:
Just a note on your mom in her 60s dating. Many older people have more time, know what they are willing to settle with and for, and don't have to do all the hangups of dating. They generally have a level of financial independence / security, and there is a fair amount of separate lives that they get to live. In other words: Dating at 60 has some major advantages that might make it easier. Do not compare your dating life to someone that is 20-30 years older than you. You and your potential partners are in very - very - different life stages.

To be fair, she has to worry whether a longer term relationship expects her to be a 'purse or nurse' as my mother put it to me. If she's dating a guy that is divorced, don't forget - somebody, somewhere was sick of his shit - and there may be a ton to unpack or to keep completely segregated from their lives. If she's dating someone that is a widow, then there is grief, comparison, and a host of other problems which might not crop up early on, but will eventually be somewhere around their relationship.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:14 PM on March 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

If "sad" doesn't include "lack of energy or motivation", I find staying busy helps. That could be anything: household chores you don't get to during the week, a longer-term project, making food beyond a simple meal (ex. chicken stock, big batch of pasta sauce or soup, preserving something, or just spending the time to make an extra-fancy or involved dinner), a hobby (especially if it gets me out of the house), gardening, or even just going for walks. Whatever gives you something interesting to do that isn't too demanding or stressful.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:23 PM on March 8, 2020

Making plans is a good go to for me. Even if that plan is on Saturday I'm got to buy groceries while listening to music and then I'm going to have some ice cream!

Usually I find that my days off are the only time I have for a real workout and it's a pain to get off your butt and work out but then I never feel bad about it afterward I just feel stronger.

Sometimes the plan is waking up late, enjoying a cup of tea and just lazing about.

But all in all, plans help a lot.
posted by donut_princess at 7:36 PM on March 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have this problem too, but I'm mildly depressed and spending a lot more time alone these days than I'm used to. I believe the problem is that when I'm not at work I don't have enough to occupy my thoughts and so when I'm doing things like cooking or housework that don't require a lot of brain engagement, I end up ruminating on things that make me sad. I combat this by doing a lot of reading online to while away the lonely hours. I waste a lot of time on Reddit and Metafilter when I should be cleaning/cooking/exercising. A good book or podcast would also work, as well as a game or coloring app on your phone or tablet. Not exactly productive pursuits but they keep me from crying while washing dishes.
posted by FormerMermaid at 10:34 AM on March 10, 2020

Douglas Adams named a book after this sort of end-of-week ennui:
In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn't cope with, and that terrible listlessness which starts to set in at about 2:55, when you know that you've had all the baths you can usefully have that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the papers you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o'clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.
So first, you're not alone in feeling these sorts of feelings. We're not alone. I'm not sure why, but I find some comfort in that.

Second, I think a big part of it is that the weekend is the only time when your brain says "ok, that's all done with - now we're going to dwell on a heap of stuff I've had to park during the week." Throw in some general tiredness, a not so great week, maybe not as much energy as you'd like to get out and about, and then feeling a bit down about that and down on yourself for not having more energy and you're down even further. That all seems pretty normal. Mix in a tendency to compare up rather than down (that is, to dwell on how others have it better, rather than how you're better off than some people who have it worse), sprinkle over some loneliness, and it's not hard to see why it all adds up to sadness, or even just the absence of happiness.

Something that's helped me a lot is to accept that I'm going to have an indoors kind of weekend with not a lot going on or a lot of people around but make it into a bit of a project. I'm going to laze around in front of Netflix, sure. But I'm going to have a John Hughes marathon, and then read Wikipedia articles and blog posts about the movies, and then listen to the soundtracks. Or I'm going to watch Amelie and Chocolat and make myself something easy and French for lunch and chocolate for dessert.

At the end of the weekend I've done what I would have done anyway - that is, not much at all - but that small amount of structure and intent makes it feel like an achievement, not being lazy and lame. And it's a nice feeling, and I look forward to doing it again the next weekend.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 7:12 PM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

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