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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 January 21, 2020

      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

      Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

      your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

        Why You Need a Vision

        Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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        How to Create Your Life Vision

        Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

        What Do You Want?

        The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

        It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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        Some tips to guide you:

        • Remember to ask why you want certain things
        • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
        • Give yourself permission to dream.
        • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
        • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

        Some questions to start your exploration:

        • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
        • What would you like to have more of in your life?
        • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
        • What are your secret passions and dreams?
        • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
        • What do you want your relationships to be like?
        • What qualities would you like to develop?
        • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
        • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
        • What would you most like to accomplish?
        • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

        It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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        What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

        Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

        A few prompts to get you started:

        • What will you have accomplished already?
        • How will you feel about yourself?
        • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
        • What does your ideal day look like?
        • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
        • What would you be doing?
        • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
        • How are you dressed?
        • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
        • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
        • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

        It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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        Plan Backwards

        It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

        • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
        • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
        • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
        • What important actions would you have had to take?
        • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
        • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
        • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
        • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
        • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

        Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

        It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

        Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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