You can prevent burnout with this Swedish hack

  • As working from home continues to be the new normal, burnout among employees is on the rise
  • In Sweden, citizens use a tactic called lillördag, or “little Saturday,” to help prevent burnout
  • This tradition involves a midweek celebration, which can help workers recharge for the remaining workdays ahead

In a survey for, 52% of participants reported feeling burned out at work — with over 67% stating that this feeling had become worse throughout the pandemic’s course. 

As of May 2021, it’s estimated that over 70% of white-collar workers in the U.S. are still working from home. While remote working has its benefits (no time spent commuting or commute expenses, for starters), working from home has created blurred lines when it comes to unplugging for the day. 

In Sweden, a midweek tradition known as lillördag (or little Saturday) has proven beneficial for helping those who work remotely to recharge and avoid burnout. Here’s a look at what lillördag is, how it helps with burnout and how to adopt this tradition into your weekly routine to help you recharge and refocus.

What is lillördag?

“[Lillördag] is a break typically taken on Wednesdays where you let yourself enjoy the time after work as if it was the weekend,” says Dr.  Chris Airey, medical director at Optimale, a British medical clinic focused on helping men with hormone deficiencies. “You can go out for dinner and drinks, meet up at a friend’s house, or relax with a movie after work.” 

This tradition stemmed from the workweek of a maid’s schedule in Sweden. Since Swedish maids didn’t have weekends off, they’d get Wednesday evenings off instead. This tradition has since become widely adopted in Sweden and other European countries. Bars and music venues in Sweden offer Wednesday night specials and stay open later than they do during the rest of the workweek for those who want to take full advantage.

How lillördag helps with burnout

When working from home, there’s no physical separation between our office life and home life. This makes it easy to continue working far longer hours than we would in a traditional office setting — and also makes it harder to take the time needed to recharge from our work responsibilities properly.

“Burnout is caused by prolonged or excessive stress leading to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion,” Airey said.

“[Lillördag] is a great way to give our brains the downtime that they need, and it’s a good routine to have to remind ourselves to give ourselves that much-needed break to relieve stress that has built up over the first half of the week. It can help to regularly reduce stress and prevent a build-up that can lead to burnout.” 

How to celebrate Lillördag

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to adopting lillördag into your workweek.

As long as you’re spending time doing something you enjoy after work (and not catching up on work emails while doing so), you’re off to a great start. 

Here are a few tips on how to make lillördag a part of your weekly routine. 

1. Start small 

“You don’t have to start off by organizing a huge gathering for your friends or family,” Airey said.

“Set the time aside after work to relax with your favorite show or go out for a nice dinner with your partner, family, or close friends. It should be easy to incorporate into your routine so it doesn’t feel like a chore.”

2. Make Wednesday a hobby night 

“Little Saturday doesn’t have to mean you celebrate with food and drinks. Maybe you have a hobby which you never have time for,” says Jessica Zhao, chief marketing officer of Spacewhite, an Australian environmentally friendly laundry-detergent company. “

Try scheduling that hobby for midweek. Sign up for a class, or arrange a knitting meet-up with a friend. Sometimes hobbies need to be scheduled, and lillördag can help with that!”

3. Prioritize yourself 

“Whatever you decide to do for lillördag, it’s about prioritizing yourself and your feelings apart from your work,” Zhao said.

“One week you may want to celebrate with a great group of friends, another week may be just some hobby time with a family member, and another might be spent reading alone with some tea. Lillördag is about recharging and disconnecting, so make sure you’re always being true to your unique needs!”