7 Things the Happiest People Do Every Weekend

Want to feel happier? Add these activities to your weekend lineup, experts say.

If you think of happiness as a practice, rather than a state to be permanently achieved, you may find that there's a lot more of it to go around. But like any other practice, it takes time and focus to build a solid foundation of contentedness. That's exactly what makes your weekend plans such an important factor in how you feel throughout the week.

These extended moments of free time are the perfect opportunity to engage in the practice of happiness by prioritizing the things you love and maximizing restoration. In fact, therapists and mental health professionals say several weekend habits are common among the happiest people. Read on to find out what they are.

RELATED: 50 Happiness Hacks That Are Entirely Backed by Science.

1
They practice self-care.

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After a long and busy week, the happiest people know that it's important to make time to practice self-care. This could include exercising, reading a book, taking a bath, taking yourself out to a movie theater, or anything else that restores your energy and fills your cup.

Bayu Prihandito, a life coach and the founder of Life Architekture, says that practicing mindfulness or meditation is a particularly potent method of self-care.

"Starting your Saturday morning with meditation, such as deep breathing exercises or simply sitting in silence for 20 minutes can be quite beneficial for your mental health. The goal is to clear the mind, ground yourself, and set a positive tone for the weekend," he tells Best Life.

2
They spend quality time with their loved ones.

intergenerational family smiling for a photo
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After some quality "me time," the happiest people make sure to also connect with friends and loved ones. Prihandito suggests doing so over a leisurely meal, which can add to the feeling of luxury and restoration.

"Enjoying a brunch with some close friends or family allows for deeper and more meaningful conversations than just socializing. It helps to catch up and creates a sense of community and belonging," he says.

RELATED: Therapists Share the 9 Most Effective Ways to Fight the Winter Blues.

3
They plan for the upcoming week.

woman filling out planner
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If you're stressed for five out of the seven days of the week, it won't matter how restorative your weekend is—you'll still feel fried. That's why the experts say the happiest people usually spend some portion of the weekend planning for and streamlining the upcoming week.

"This might involve setting your goals, preparing meals, or organizing your work," explains Prihandito.

"By taking things off our future plate, we feel calmer and more prepared for the week ahead," agrees Laurel Roberts-Meese, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and the Clinical Director of Laurel Therapy Collective. "But don't spend the whole weekend focused on the future. We also have to enjoy right now."

4
They spend time in a flow state.

A young girl and a man looking into an oven while baking something
iStock / Svitlana Hulko

If you want to join the ranks of the happiest people, Prihandito next suggests putting yourself into a "flow state." This is when you are completely focused on a single task, freeing you from all other concerns and obligations.

For instance, "cooking or baking something special for your family can be exciting, fun, and therapeutic," while also putting you in a flow state, he says. "Being in the moment, away from daily stress and worries, you get to prepare and share a delicious meal with your loved ones."

RELATED: 15 Life-Changing Habits to Add to Your Wellness Routine.

5
They explore the things that give them purpose.

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There's no one weekend activity that will make everyone happy. The key, experts say, is to figure out which activities give you a sense of purpose—then build your weekend plans around those.

"If you're looking to be happier, start with asking yourself if you recharge alone or with others, or a little of both. Most of us need a mix," suggests Roberts-Meese. "From there, ask yourself what your values are and how you feel more connected and fulfilled. When was the last time you felt really alive and connected?"

Ultimately you may choose to focus on creative projects, join a pickup soccer game, or simply take a walk. If it has meaning for you, it's well worth your time.

6
They get out into nature.

Couple Exploring on a Hike
Mladen Mitrinovic/Shutterstock

Spending time outdoors is another weekend activity that's popular among the happiest people. That's no coincidence—time spent in nature may actually be a major contributing factor to their rosy outlook, research suggests.

In fact, a 2023 study notes that "compared to the control groups, participants who had been assigned to spend more time in nature or to simply notice how the everyday nature encountered in their daily routine made them feel reported higher levels of meaning in life." In many people, this enhanced feeling of meaning contributes to an increased feeling of happiness.

"Going for a nature walk along a trail or in a park can be incredibly refreshing," Prihandito agrees. "It offers a unique chance to truly disconnect from the hustle of everyday life and ground yourself in the present moment."

RELATED: 10 Ways to Feel Calm and Happy (That Aren't Meditation).

7
They make room for spontaneity.

Overjoyed adult couple have fun together at outdoor park in leisure activity. Man carrying woman in piggyback and laugh a lot. Love and life mature people lifestyle concept. Enjoying vacation nature
iStock

Finally, the happiest people don't plan their weekends down to the minute—they leave room for spontaneity.

"Busyness is sometimes a sign that some deeper issue is going on or they are trying to outrun something in their life. It can also be a sign of anxiety if you have to have control over every aspect of your weekend, versus letting it unfold in some areas how it's going to unfold," explains Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, an online therapist and coach for moms and moms-to-be.

Rod Mitchell, MC, MSc, a registered psychologist with Emotions Therapy Calgary, describes these as "micro-adventures," and agrees that they can be majorly beneficial to your happiness.

"Happy people often break the monotony of routine by embarking on small-scale adventures," he shares. "This could be exploring a new hiking trail, trying a new cuisine, or even a spontaneous road trip. These activities spark joy and a sense of novelty."

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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