Get Happier in a Weekend
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Get Happier in a Weekend

Don't let those 48 hours go to waste. Use our mini makeover plans to help you refresh your marriage, health habits, and more -- all before your alarm goes off on Monday morning.
Weekend Makeover #1: Melt Away Stress, Spa-Style

Try these budget-friendly relaxation tips from Laura Hittleman, corporate director of beauty services at Canyon Ranch, in Tucson, Arizona.

  • Go to your head. In addition to being a major tension reliever, a scalp massage can enhance hair health by improving circulation. Apply jojoba or another scalp oil to your fingers. Bend from the waist so more blood flows to your head. Touch the pads of your fingers to your temples and massage in a circular motion, gradually working your way over your scalp and down your neck.
  • Try a yoga facial. A simple yoga move called the Lion Pose can help loosen the tight muscles that make you look so stressed. Sit on the floor with your legs folded beneath you and your palms on your thighs and fingers stretched apart. Take a deep breath and as you begin to exhale press your hands down onto your legs and lift your chest, neck, and head up to the sky. Stick out your tongue, move your eyes up and down, right and left, even roar like a lion if you like. Hold for up to 15 seconds; repeat three to five times.
  • Take a breather. Controlled breathing is a stress-busting technique that's a staple at spas because it's so simple and effective. It slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and forces you to shift your mind away from your worries. The best part is that you can do it anywhere. Find five minutes in your day to sit in a quiet spot and breathe in and out slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out as your chest fills. On the exhale picture the stress leaving your body. You'll be surprised by how calm you feel.

Get Some Shut-Eye

Weekend Makeover #2: Get a Better Night's Sleep

Often it's easy to identify what's keeping you up at night (your mile-long to-do list, for starters). But have you ever thought about whether your bedroom is truly sleep-friendly? Take this weekend to transform it into a more relaxing, inviting space.

  • Eliminate electronics. Not only is watching TV or checking your e-mail in bed way too stimulating, but those glowing screens fool your brain into thinking it's daytime. Wind down with a bath, a book, or stretches.
  • Chill out. Set your thermostat somewhere around 65 degrees F. Your core body temperature naturally drops several degrees while you sleep, so a too-warm bedroom can disrupt the process and make you restless.
  • Block out annoying sounds. Even little things, like a creaking floorboard, can disturb your zzz's. Bring a fan or white-noise machine into your bedroom to drown them out or pick up a pair of earplugs while you're out shopping this weekend.
  • Dim the lights. Exposure to bright light in the evening might throw off your body's internal clock because it prevents the release of melatonin, a hormone that causes sleepiness. Hang light-blocking window shades to make your room as dark as possible (or take the budget-friendly route and buy a sleep mask). If reading is part of your pre-bed routine, switch to lower-watt bulbs.
  • Think minimalism. A cluttered bedroom invites stress, not sleep. Move anything not related to sleep or sex to another room.

Should You Sleep In This Weekend?

We know how tempting it is to make up for lost shut-eye by snoozing late on Saturday and Sunday morning, but you'll pay for it. Your body gets used to waking up late surprisingly quickly, which is why you get that dreaded Sunday-night insomnia and Monday-morning sleep hangover, says Clete Kushida, MD, PhD, past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. A better way to pay off your sleep debt is to go to bed a little earlier on the weekend and wake up at your usual time. And avoid napping: It also skews your sleep patterns. Unless you take naps at the same time every day, skip the siestas.

Rekindle the Romance

Weekend Makeover #3: Reconnect with Your Husband

Do jam-packed weekday schedules make you and your husband feel more like roommates than a married couple? These simple expert-approved ways will help you make the most of your together time this weekend.

  • Ditch the dinner-and-a-movie routine and schedule an adventurous date. Couples who seek new or challenging experiences -- even something as simple as going to a concert if they haven't been to one in years -- may be more satisfied in their relationship, says Arthur Aron, PhD, a professor of social psychology at Stony Brook University.
  • Be a little touchy-feely. Massage your husband's shoulders when he's working at the computer, stroke his arm while you're watching TV together, or hold his hand while you're strolling through the mall. We know it sounds kind of cheesy, but these little gestures really do communicate "I care about you" in a big way.
  • Turn chores into we time. Weekend errands and household tasks feel less like a slog when you find a fun way to do them together, says Carol J. Bruess, PhD, coauthor of What Happy Couples Do. For example, play music that was popular during your dating years (the B-52s, anyone?) while you scrub the bathroom.
  • Heat up your sex life by stepping outside your comfort zone. When the kids are out with their friends this weekend, use the opportunity to watch an erotic movie together or fool around someplace other than the bedroom.
  • Do something your husband loves. Offer to cook his favorite dinner or rent a movie he wants to see. Making a small sacrifice for your partner can bring you closer, say researchers at the University of Rochester.
  • Relive funny moments from the past. Dig out pics of your Tarzan and Jane Halloween getup or reminisce about your awkward first date. Researchers at Appalachian State University found that couples who recalled times when they laughed together were more likely to be fulfilled in their relationship.
  • Get your schedules in sync. Take time on Sunday night to go over what you both have planned for the upcoming week. It shows you care about each other's lives, and it can help prevent stress-inducing scheduling conflicts.

Make Over Your Diet

You can't learn to crave good-for-you foods overnight, but there are some effective ways to make avoiding the bad stuff easier. Turn this advice into action and you'll be eating a more nutritious diet in just one weekend.

  • Keep a food diary. It will help you identify the times and situations when you typically give in to cravings so you can come up with strategies to handle them, says Elisabetta Politi, RD, nutrition director at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center, in Durham, North Carolina.
  • Find your motivation. While you've still got pen and paper in hand, write a list of reasons you want to eat better. Think beyond appearance; maybe you want more energy or need to improve your overall health. Post it on your fridge so you can read it whenever you get the urge to splurge.
  • Do eat leisurely meals. Guilty of inhaling your food on crazy-busy weekdays? Try lingering over your meals on your two days off. Taking the time to savor each bite will help you feel more satisfied.
  • Don't skimp on breakfast. Eating too few calories in the morning makes your blood sugar plummet, which leads to killer sweet cravings later. Use your less-hectic weekend mornings to try out more satisfying breakfasts that include protein, healthy grains, and a little fat. Smart picks: low-fat cottage cheese mixed with low-fat granola, whole-grain toast with a little peanut butter, or a scrambled egg with low-fat cheese on a whole wheat English muffin.

Grocery Cart Makeover

Your Get-Slim Shopping List

When you hit the supermarket this weekend, fill your cart with these superfoods. They're satisfying but not fattening and help fill the biggest nutritional gaps in your diet.

Disease Fighters

Nancy L. Cohen, PhD, professor of nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Pick up:

  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Salmon

Bone Boosters

Getting enough calcium can help slow the breakdown of bone that leads to osteoporosis (yes, it's happening now).

  • Low-fat milk
  • Yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Broccoli
  • Low-fat cheese

Heart Helpers

Potassium helps lower blood pressure and reduces your risk of stroke; unfortunately, most women only get about half the recommended 4,700mg they need daily.

  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Bananas
  • Kidney beans