leap year has a leap day - an extra day

It’s A Leap Year: 6 Ways To Make The Extra Leap Day Count

4 mins

We only get a Leap Day once every four years so from ticking off something on your bucket list to learning the art of doing nothing, here’s how to make the most of every minute

Good things always come to those who wait – and when it comes to a leap year that’s a looong four years. But it’s worth it for that extra day – a Leap Day – on our calendar on 29 February to enjoy. 

It’s considered so special – this ‘gift’ of a day that traditions have built up around it. It has until relatively recently been seen as the only ‘acceptable’ day for women to propose to men and many people see it as a bucket list kind of day – 24 hours of stolen time to do their favourite thing, or something amazing, at least. It’s not a duvet day, after all. 

Leap Day Explained

But why do we have a leap year anyway? It’s actually pretty scientific in an astronomical way and all to do with the way we measure time. A day is the length of time it takes Earth to spin once on its axis. A year is the time is takes us to orbit around the sun. While that sounds quite straightforward it’s anything but and – and we’re cutting out a lot of explanation here –  the end result is that a tropical year (which is what we all go by) is 365.2422 days a year. After four years that extra adds up to 0.9688 – a whole extra day.  

‘You could follow the example of a well-established Dutch approach: niksen which is the art of doing nothing. On this leap day, embrace being effortlessly aimless and allow yourself to daydream and think of Number 1′

‘Some cultures and countries may consider a leap year to bring good luck,’ says psychologist Jan P.de Jonge, ‘but we shouldn’t rely on good luck too much.’ Instead, he says, we should plan ahead to make the most of that extra day on 29 February – after all it’s another four years before we get another. 

Here the Dutch psychologist and author suggests six ways in which to enjoy Leap Day:

Celebrate and Decompress 

‘Leaplings’ – those born on 29 February will celebrate this special birthday. But don’t let that stop you from celebrating. Book the day off and allow yourself the extra time to decompress and let go of some pressure of deadlines and pressing to-dos – especially if you’re led by the principle that there are ‘only so many days in the month’ because this month that’s not true. 

This year Leap Day falls on a Thursday so if you do take the day off you could create a long weekend – enough time for a road trip or to tick something off your bucket list. 

A Day For Reflection

take the leap day to spend time on reflection

 Why not use this Leap Day to think about being more flexible. Take time to reflect on where you need more flexibility in you daily life: what could you do differently? Do you get enough sleep? Do you enjoy your work? What small changes could or should you allow yourself to make or consider? ‘This day may be a good day as any to take a step back and reflect on what habits to drop or new ones to try,’ says Jan.

Get Off The Treadmill

Greater awareness of the regular day-to-day moments is good for your well-being. ‘Increasing your mindfulness of the here and now is proven to benefit our mental health,’ says Jan. ‘The extra day we’re being given may just be the nudge you need to live a little more in the here and now. So come off that treadmill and be aware of the present moment.’

Do Nothing

do nothing on leap day - woman sleeping  on air bed in water

‘You might follow the example of a well-established Dutch approach: niksen which is the art of doing nothing,’ says the psychologist. ‘If we focus on the fact that the calendar month strictly speaking contains an additional day, you might do well to make the most of it and allow yourself some relaxation or rest. Letting yourself unwind and letting your mind wander freely is even proven to promote your level of creativity. On this leap day, embrace the art of being effortlessly aimless and do Niksen: allow yourself to daydream and think of Number 1.’

Make It Count

a goldfish leaping from one fishbowl to another with another goldfish in it - concept of spending leap day with a loved one.
Don’t spend Leap Day alone – spend it with loved ones.

Compelling advice suggests that our well-being is boosted when we have meaningful interactions with friends and family. ‘So, connect with others around you  – or make new friends!,’ says Jan. ‘Learn something new together, give to others – those small acts of kindness spring to mind. Your moment is now; make it count.’ 

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