It's Not Unusual To Dislike Weekends When You're Lonely Or Have Mental Health Struggles
The standard message in society is that people slog their way through the work or school week, then are happy to be free and have fun on the weekend. Not everyone loves weekends though. People who are lonely and isolated, or who struggle with mental health issues, sometimes feel worse during them, and appreciate aspects of the Monday to Friday week. Not only do they find weekends tougher for their own sake, but they add a dose of guilt or self-criticism because they think, "Everyone looks forward to weekends, but I don't like them. What's wrong with me?" I wrote this article to quickly let you know you're not some lone weirdo if you get filled with a vague sense of dread or melancholy whenever Saturday rolls around.
(By the way, I realize not everyone works or goes to classes Monday to Friday, and then has Saturday and Sunday off. But enough people are on that schedule that this topic is worth covering.)
Reasons lonely people can dislike weekends, and not mind weekdays as much
- They get some social interaction from their co-workers or classmates during the week. It's not as fulfilling as having proper friends, but it keeps them going. On the weekends they have to spend two long days by themselves.
- Their job or classes keep them occupied throughout the week, especially if they're demanding and have long hours. They don't have time to dwell on their loneliness. On the weekend they have nothing but time to be reminded they have no one to hang out with.
- They're tired after work or school, and so find it relaxing to kick back on their own in the evening. Watching a movie or playing video games feels like a well-earned reward after a long day. On the weekend doing the same things feels like they're sadly killing time because they have no friends to go out with.
- Similarly, if they get drained by social contact, and they're around people all day at work, they can look forward to recharging their batteries by themselves when they get home. On the weekends there's no lost energy to restore, and being alone for two days just bums them out.
- Depending on their interests, they may be able to fill their time in the evenings during the week, but everything dries up on Saturday and Sunday. For example, a hobby class they take may only be on Tuesday and Thursday night. Many classes don't schedule anything on weekend evenings because everyone supposedly has better things to do.
- They're aware there's less societal expectation that they have plans on weekday evenings. They don't feel like they're failing by staying in on a Wednesday. On weekends, and Friday nights, they know they're "supposed" to have big, fun plans with all their friends, and feel like losers for not doing anything.
- Even if they have an okay time by themselves on a Saturday or Sunday, it's always in the back of their mind that they could be out with a big group of friends, but they're not. Other people are laughing with their buddies at parties or on hikes, but not them. During the week they have less sense of, "Everyone is having fun with their friends but me."
Reasons people with mental health struggles can dislike weekends, and prefer weekdays
- If they're working or in school, that more or less keeps them busy and distracted from their worries and emotional pain. They have the flavor of mental illness where having a lot on their plate keeps their mind occupied, rather than stressing them out even more. On the weekend they have too much unstructured time to dwell on everything wrong with their life, feel their unpleasant feelings, or experience their self-destructive urges.
- They may be expected to do things on the weekend that are difficult for them, like driving to visit their family. They may have a fear of being on the highway, or be on edge around their toxic parents. If they have friends they may feel the pressure to be chipper and social, which they know they can't do. During the week they can reasonably say they're tired after work and hang out at home.
- On the weekend they have less access to the mental health services that keep them going. Most doctors and therapists work Monday to Friday. If a mental health clinic has a day for walk-in appointments, it's probably not on a Saturday. Many support groups don't have meetings on weekends. Aside from the direct help they get, going to this or that outpatient group or therapy appointment can fill their time, and keep them from feeling terrible alone at home.
What you can do if you find weekends difficult
Long-term the ultimate solution is to make friends or recover from your mental health struggles, but I know that's easier said than done, and certainly not a one-week project (and some mental health issues will never fully go away). Here are some things that may not cure your aversion to weekends, but take some of the sting out of them:
If you're lonely and isolated
- Try to do genuinely fun, interesting, new things on the weekends, rather than aimlessly kill time (e.g., visit a museum in a nearby town vs. randomly reading stuff online). If you're going to be alone anyway, you may as well make the most of it, create some good memories, and maybe discover a new interest or get an experience to talk about. I know when you're lonely and do something on your own it can be shot through with this depressing sense of, "I have to do this by myself. It would be so much better with company. Look, there's a group of friends right over there. This all reminds me how alone I am." However, I think the positives outweigh that downside.
- Find an official way to stay busy on the weekend, like volunteering somewhere or taking an easy part-time job. That way you get some of those workweek benefits of a dose of social contact and an appreciation of your off time.
If you have a mental illness
- If a lack of mental health supports is a problem, see if you can find something that is available on the weekends. Maybe there's a distress line that operates around the clock (perhaps one in another city you can reach by making a free long distance call online). Maybe there's a support group that's not specifically for your condition, but going to it still provides some relief. Maybe you can find a therapist who has a few weekend slots in their schedule.
- Like with the last bullet list, if staying occupied keeps your mind off your emotional issues, then try to find something to do on the weekends, like volunteering, taking a class, or starting a bigger project at home.
- If you reasonably assume they'd be understanding, try telling some trusted people about your mental health struggles, and how weekends are hard for you. They may be accommodating, which will take some pressure off. For example, they may tell you it's okay if you're not a bundle of good cheer when you join them for lunch on Saturday, or that they'll come to you if you're not feeling up for a drive to their place.