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July 27, 2011

Long Weekend Blues

We've got a long weekend coming up this week. It's always a joy to get Monday off, and sometimes take a Friday off to make it even longer (I didn't do that this year, though).

But is it a joy for everybody?

There was an interesting article in this week's Maclean's magazine (sadly, for some reason this is is one of the few articles from the issue that's not online) that talked about "Long Weekend Blues" (an unofficial name, which might also be called "Long Weekend Affective Disorder"). People with this problem not only do not look forward to long weekends, they actively dread them.

It's not because they don't want the extra time off of work, either.

As a 37-year-old Vancouver lawyer says, "Every long weekend feels to me like everyone else has big, unusual fun plans. I dread it. It's a reminder that my life is a little slow or empty or something. The last long weekend, there was a truck of people dressed up with brass instruments having the time of their lives. As I watched them drive by, I was like, 'Where are all you people going and how come I didn't know about it?' It just feels like a long weekend is one big party I had no idea about."
Other examples are also given in the article, the common theme being "everybody else is probably out there having fun, and my life is so empty that I'm not a part of it."

The article also quotes Alyson Pancer, a clinical social worker and therapist, who says that long weekends, like holidays, seem to come with expectations. Everywhere you look, there are stories about how busy the airports are or how bad travel is on this weekend. When you're not going anywhere special, that can affect you somewhat.

We, on the other hand, sometimes take advantage of everybody else travelling. Weekend traffic can be annoying, as tourists vie with residents who seem to be out on Sunday drives, not paying attention to things. On long weekends, Sunday driving can be almost a ghost town, which is very nice. We may go out, we may go to a movie, whatever. The city feels less packed because more people are travelling instead of staying home. As long as you avoid the tourist spots, you can also avoid the crowd of people who come to Vancouver on the long weekend.

But I found it interesting because I used to have these types of feelings, and still do to some extent. Not a depression so much as a "should we be doing what everybody else is doing?" Ultimately, I decide it's well worth just getting that extra day of rest, away from the toils of the daily work schedule. But I admit that I have some pangs occasionally.

Others have it a lot worse. They feel like they should be out there doing something fun, because everybody else is.
[Psychotherapist Barry] Rich does say that long weekends are definitely harder on lonely single people, because of "enforced frivolity." We have been led to believe that on long weekends we are supposed to have a really great time, and if we haven't, then we have screwed up big time. "God forbid you really just want to stay at home," says Rich.
He suggests not forcing the issue. If you truly don't want to do anything, enjoy spending some quiet time on that extra day, maybe seeing a friend you haven't seen in a while or doing something you've always wanted to do.

(Thanks to SweetMama)

It seems worse sometimes when you do go back to work and everybody asks how your weekend was, or what you did, and you can't say that you really did anything. Meanwhile, they went this way and that way, to this event or that beach, and it can get a little depressing.

Yet it shouldn't, because we chose to spend the long weekend that way. It was relaxing, allowed us to recharge our batteries, and gave me plenty of time for video gaming.

How is that bad?

It isn't, really. That's why any "depression" for me only lasts as long as the question does. Once we've moved on to work stuff, or a different topic, it quickly dissipates.

I'd be interested in your thoughts, though. Do you suffer from "Long Weekend Blues?" If so, what do you do to combat it? Are married people (especially those with kids) more immune to it because of family activities that usually happen on these weekends? Family barbecues are a mainstay on Memorial Day weekend, for example. But what about when the kids are grown?

Any of my single friends have any thoughts on this?

(Since the article's not online, all the quotes are typed from my reading of the article, so any errors are mine)

Edit: Of course, after I do the post and say that it's not online, they go ahead and put it online.


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  2. Hi Dave! First and foremost, you have a well laid out blog (*cheers*).

    Secondly, I can relate well to this post, especially when I was in college, where I had to study in a university (in Manila) 6 hours away from home. So I had no choice but to stay in a dormitory nearby. On fridays, my dormmates who lived in nearby provinces (like 3 or 4 hours away from Manila) travel home while I was usually left alone at the dorm. So I found weekends sadder than busy weekdays.

    And when I was in junior medical internship (that was before I quit just recently), we would always look forward for day offs (which rarely happened) because we work even on weekends (and I mean, even on Sundays). And when I found nothing special to do on that day off, I really get depressed and felt nothing else but self-pity.

    But when I learned about meditation, my life has changed. I found more meaning when I just stay at home instead of going out. It allows us to focus more inside than outside ourselves. I really find it difficult to explain in words, but meditation really worked wonders for me.

    Thank you for posting this, Dave. God bless! :-)

  3. At my house, most long weekends are spent sitting on our cans.

  4. OK, at first I felt really stupid and out of touch for not knowing what the hell holiday was on Monday. (Wasn't even 100% sure of Monday's date, for that matter.) But Google informed me Monday is a Canadian holiday, so I feel a little less out of it. Though since Canada and USA share very few holidays, most of which are religion based, I should have assumed Canadian.

  5. @Irene: Glad it's working for you now! I remember wondering about those people in college who lived too far away to go home on long weekends. It was sad.

    @knotty: Us too! And we love it. :)

    @karen: yeah, this week is the Provincial holiday, so it's BC Day here.

  6. My husband told me that he has some leave he has to burn... and he thinks "staycations" are lame.

  7. I can understand that, though I don't necessarily agree. We've stayed home for a week, and it's awesome!


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