How much do you enjoy the weekend? You may enjoy it so much that your personality changes. Nearly half of us find that we become more impulsive, imaginative, agreeable and creative on Saturdays and Sundays, according to a national poll conducted by Hampton Hotels. In addition, 33 percent say the transformation is so radical that they are a completely different person on the weekend than they are during the week. "The weekend is a significant cultural norm that actually doesn't change who we are, but allows us the freedom and flexibility to take part in activities that elicit these positive emotional reactions," says University of California, Berkeley sociologist Dr. Christine Carter, who is the author of "Raising Happiness." "The trick is to learn how to foster and take advantage of the happiness effects that can occur during the weekend. There are also important strategies we can employ to prolong the happiness we experience over the weekend." To make the most of your weekends, make sure you do the following, according to Carter:
Give yourself something to look forward to
Planning your weekend ahead can have a big impact on your level of happiness simply because you get to anticipate the fun things you'll be doing. By striking a balance of planning something you love for the weekend and allowing time for spontaneity, you can maximize the positive emotions that come from anticipation.
Prepare for Monday on Friday
To reduce the stress you'll feel on Sunday evening as you think ahead to the work week, take time on Friday morning to prepare for Monday. Sometimes all it takes is scheduling important tasks or writing a to-do list.
Rest and recharge
Being able to step away from work on the weekend allows us to de-stress, recharge and rejuvenate. Stress levels steadily decline as the work week progresses, with only eight percent of respondents saying they are stressed on Saturday, compared with 32 percent who say they are stressed on Monday.
Explore passions and new experiences
Having free time on Saturday and Sunday allows you to pursue your interests and do something about which you are passionate. The weekend allows us to better "live in the moment," which fosters feelings of contentment and happiness.
Spend time with friends and family
Being able to choose who you spend your time with has a positive impact on your mood. Specifically, spending time with those we love causes feelings of happiness and life satisfaction to peak on the weekend.
Take a break
While many of us have chores and errands to do on the weekend, it's better for your psyche if you can dedicate at least one of the days to rest and relaxation, doing only those things you most enjoy.