I’m not going to spout the benefits of carving out more free moments in your overly-full schedule (I’m guessing your harried enough to know that you want, no need, to make some changes), so I want to point out a practice that might just be life-changing.
The practice is ancient but feels strangely foreign to most of us. It includes slowing down, making space, freeing one’s thoughts and hopefully gaining insight, clarity and peace. What is this magical, mysterious practice?
The #1 Cure for Weekly Overwhelm
Faith-based individuals call it a “Shabbat” or “Sabbath” or “Sunday rest.” Call it whatever you will, but if you truly want to make big, positive changes in your stress levels, start it now. This week.
There are entire books and websites dedicated to the topic. I’d recommend you read about it further if that will help you embrace the concept more fully. But these are the basics:
*Some advocates advise gently easing oneself into this practice by setting aside just an hour or two to start. I don’t. You have to have a long enough period of time away from work/technology to see the benefits. Otherwise you will end up throwing your hands in the air saying, “See? I knew this wouldn’t work!”
How I started a rest day and the benefits I’ve experienced
I grew up in a religion where we observed Sabbath each week, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. I had a love/hate view of the practice: on the one hand it made the time special, set apart and offered a rhythm to the week. On the other hand, it was oppressive (hello, teenager who can’t go to a Friday night dance?) and often felt oppressive.
As an adult, I observe a modified version: I participate in a rest day each Sunday. I don’t work. I don’t go online (until evening). We try to do fun things together as a family: hikes in the woods, going to the beach or taking out the canoe or blowing bubbles and sitting in the sun on the deck. Anything to get us outside and breathing fresh air. I still cook, but make simple meals.
Maybe something about it meshes with my inner rebel. It feels good, so good, to say “later” to the to-do list, the “should list” and all the niggling, nagging things that need to be taken care of on a daily or weekly basis. Slow Your Home has a great post, Ignore the Shoulds. Do Something You Love which is inspiring.
I can’t honestly say that since I started this practice a couple of years ago, I’ve never worked or gone online on Sundays. But I find that the times I do, I am much less peaceful and content at the end of the day.
It’s kind of like when you were a kid and just couldn’t wait to bite into that giant chocolate Easter bunny. “It’s huge! It’s going to taste awesome.” And then you bit a little too aggressively on its little bunny ear and the whole head caved in. To add insult to injury, not only was the bunny hollow but it was just “chocolate flavored.”
“Oh, just a few minutes brainstorming this project,” feels so innocent. But halfway through the workweek I find that I’m no further along than if I stopped completely on Sunday and gave myself the gift of an entire day off. Isn’t that weird? It’s almost magical the way that the “wasted” time helps the rest of our week go more smoothly.
It shouldn’t be surprising though. We all need rest. We need time to nurture ourselves and let that creative well become deep once again.
Do you have a habit of unplugging once a week? If so, how did you get started? What challenges did you face? Please share a response in the comments.
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