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Claim Your Day of Rest for Improved Health and Productivity

Claim Your Day of Rest for Improved Health and Productivity


    My parents were firm believers in honoring the Sabbath. Coming from the Christian tradition, this meant that we observed a day of rest on Sundays. On this day, no household chores (aside from cooking and washing the dishes) could take place. No knitting or mowing the lawn. And absolutely no shopping.

    Now, the shopping part was not much of a choice during my childhood, because I lived in Sweden, where the stores were closed on Sundays.

    However, as I grew older – and stores started being open on Sundays – these rules started to annoy me a bit. What’s so bad about going shopping on a Sunday? What if I need to do homework?

    When I left for college, I rebelled against the day of rest. I sat in the library every Sunday from the time it opened until it closed at midnight (yes, I was a really fun college student…).

    While I supported my husband through graduate school, I would often babysit on Sundays. It was a great way to get some extra cash, but not very restful.

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    And when I entered the management level in the corporate world, weekends didn’t really exist anymore. I used to joke about the fact that “it doesn’t really matter what day it is, because I’m always working.”

    You Need a Day of Rest to Avoid Burnout

    Guess what? I burned out.

    I had several of the symptoms that Royale Scuderi describes in her excellent article, Warning: You Have Entered the Burnout Zone:

    • A pervasive sense of failure and self-doubt
    • Loss of motivation and interest in my job
    • Lack of a sense of satisfaction and any feelings of accomplishment
    • Extreme exhaustion and lack of energy, feeling completely drained
    • Increase in conflicts both in the workplace and at home

    I realized I could not continue the way I was going. But what to do? I had a demanding job with an expectation of always being “on.” (I.e. checking email, answering the phone, etc.)

    I thought about my parents. They were very busy people, but they always seemed to have an abundance of energy. And they loved their jobs. What did they have that I didn’t?

    A day of rest… A built-in day to relax, be in the moment, and nurture relationships. A day of preventative health care.

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    Remember How to Rest

    It amazes me how much we forget and then remember as it relates to our health and general wellbeing. We have so much to learn from our parents, our grandparents, and other people who came before us.

    I love LJ Earnest’s article, Productivity Lessons From Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Farmer Boy”. (And not just because I am a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan.) One of the productivity lessons from this article is called “Truly Rest Regularly.” Like my parents, the people of that time had it figured out. Only minimal work was done on Sundays. The day was set aside for resting and reading.

    In an interview with 96-year-old Bill in a regional magazine, the author writes:

    “Bill said he used to just dream of Sundays. They would take the day off from farm work and go to church while his mom or Aunt Bess would stay home and cook. After church, they would pack a big picnic and head off to find a good spot by the creek. After eating well, they took off their shoes to play in the creek or just lie down on the grass and enjoy it.”

    We were pretty good at resting when we were kids. Spending long summer days at the pool, playing Monopoly for hours on rainy days, or snuggling up with a pile of good books. Remember those days and try to incorporate that resttime back in your life.

    Schedule a Day of Rest

    When I finally realized that my parents were onto something, I made a commitment to observe a day of rest. Sundays made sense for me, but obviously different days will work for different people.

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    The first few months I started with what I call a “digital sabbath.” I let the computer rest for a whole day. This eliminated a good chunk of work and enabled me to rest.

    But eventually, I wanted to take it to the next level. So I made a simple rule:

    Don’t do anything that feels like work.

    Doing laundry feels like work. Cooking doesn’t. Turning on my computer feels like work. Watching Lost on Netflix doesn’t. Reconciling credit card statements feels like work. Reading a novel doesn’t.

    This rule will manifest itself differently for every person. (Isn’t it wonderful that we are all unique?)

    Sunday is now my favorite day of the week. It is the day when I can read in bed until my stomach starts to growl. It is the day when I don’t have to spend time in front of a screen. It’s a day to spend time with family and friends – or alone.

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    And when Monday rolls around, I’m not panicking, because I know Sunday is just six days away. And I’m ready to tackle whatever work comes my way in a productive and healthy manner.

    So what are you waiting for? Claim your day of rest today and make it your own.

    Do you have rest time built into your schedule? If so, what does it look like? If not, what’s stopping you?

    (Photo credit: Young Lady in Hammock via Shutterstock)

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      Last Updated on December 9, 2019

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

      Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

      Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

      1. Get Rationally Optimistic

      Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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      This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

      In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

      The result: no more mental stress.

      2. Unplug

      Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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      How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

      It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

      Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

      3. Easy on the Caffeine

      Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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      Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

      4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

      That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

      How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

      • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
      • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
      • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

      While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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      5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

      This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

      The result: mental stress will be gone!

      So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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