Forget priding yourself on having a jam-packed social calendar. Scheduling regular wide-open weekends could be just what the psychologist ordered.

A frenetic pace was once my modus operandi. I thought long hours at work signalled I was kicking career goals and frequent nights out proved I was making the most of every minute. To me, being busy was a sign of success and I'd smugly responded, "Flat stick!" when anyone asked how I had been.

But the trouble with booking yourself stupid is that you have no time for recovery, or spontaneity. I'd be forever replying "Sorry!" to that-day invites for chai or Sunday sippers and there was no time to rejuvenate after a hectic work week.

I was such a "yes woman" that I felt like I owed it to everyone in my life to be at every event whenever I wasn't working.

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It was when my boyfriend started prescribing yoga classes to me that I got the hint I was overdoing things. In the rare times I was home, I'd be snappy or emotional or darting around the apartment making illogical attempts at cleaning. He'd hand me my mat and send me off to get a dose of chill-the-f-out.

At the beginning of last year I decided to trial a new approach and started blocking regular weeknights and a weekend a month with nothing in the calendar.
It's been revolutionary.

I've learnt the art of a vague "no can do" to invites so I can occasionally keep the world as my oyster. It means I can spontaneously call in on my best friend or hang out at my local park for the afternoon with nowhere to rush to and no racing pulse to try control.

I now cherish the quiet time and have discovered that I enthusiastically rock up to events, excited to socialise after a mini break.

Dr Marny Lishman, a Perth psychologist who specialises in stress relief, says that when we've got a lot coming up, the primitive part of our brain mistakenly thinks it's all happening at that very moment.

"Thinking about something that is happening in the future creates stress," she points out.
"If you have a busy week plus stuff on the weekend ... it creates overwhelm and the fight or flight response turns on."

Part of the problem is that events often require preparation, such as booking a restaurant or buying a gift, so the more you have on, the more you add to your to-do list in the weeks prior.

"There are sub-duties attached to the actual event you have to do and if you're thinking about them it increases stress," Dr Lishman says.

Everyone has a different threshold for busyness so Dr Lishman says individuals ought to sit down and spend time assessing their lifestyle to consider how much down time would work for them.

"We get on a hamster wheel of life and keep going without stopping and thinking, 'What do I want out of my life?'" she explains.

"It's not a one-size-fits-all approach - think about what you, as a person, need to function the best you can. Prioritise that and make time for it on a weekly basis."
By actively setting up empty timeslots, Dr Lishman says we can give ourselves what we need on a particular day.

"We can't plan ahead how we are going to feel in a month," she points out.
"By not planning, you can go with the flow of the day. It might be that you want to socialise all day or it might be that you want to have a pyjama day by yourself."

Of course, the risk with waiting until the day to decide you're up for some socialising is that nobody will be available to drink that wine with you. But if you've got stuff planned for the weekends ahead then it shouldn't be too much of a bother.

Use the time to explore a new nook of your city or have a Netflix binge. Spontaneity, after all, is the spice of life.

Reports News.com.au