It’s ancient–3,000 years old, perhaps more. It’s been debated by the sages and philosophers through the ages. It’s even been the subject of recent best-selling books.
It has the power to make you happier, reduce your stress, and make you more productive every single day.
Day of Rest, or DOR, comes from religious traditions, but you can enjoy the benefits regardless of your personal beliefs. DOR involves choosing one day of the week to set your daily work and routine tasks aside. You may choose to avoid shopping, your smartphone, and media noise. You can replace these things with spending time with loved ones and reflecting on personal goals. A day of rest can become the keystone of your self care.
DOR is known in Judeo-Christian circles variously as the sabbath, shabbat, or the Lord’s Day. From those traditions, DOR made the jump to the culture at large. In the United States, this idea has a long, though forgotten, history. The sabbath used to be a public institution in most US cities. As late as 1918 stores, factories, and other places of business were routinely closed on Sundays in most US towns and cities. Many places even had laws against activities deemed to be violations of sabbath observance.
Although many people of faith still observe a weekly day of rest, few Christians or Jews take it seriously anymore. To the non-religious or unaffiliated, the idea may be a completely foreign concept. And aside from the custom of the weekend, nothing in the culture today resembles the old DOR customs.
Why DOR is due for a comeback
We’re all busy. In fact, many of us wear our stress like a badge of honor. We all like to feel important, and many of us feel like a booked schedule is proof of that. That “always booked” feeling comes with a cost, though.
Long term stress has been shown to increase risk for some of the most deadly diseases of our time. These including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. That’s not to mention the mental health impact, which can include depression and suicidal thoughts.
You may feel like you can’t slow down, that you have no choice but to be constantly going.
But think again. Whatever pressure you find yourself under, you’re in control of your own decisions. Few of us are so important that it’s impossible to change the way we use our time.
In any case, you can’t take care of anyone unless you take care of you first.
This simple life hack can
- improve your mental and physical health
- add to your productivity throughout the week
- add years to your life
- help you enjoy whatever precious time on earth you have left
Is it worth it?
Imagine waking up on a day when your email doesn’t matter. Imagine your mind being occupied, not by your frantic schedule or the latest horrors on the news, but on taking care of yourself and those closest to you. Imagine a day free of traffic jams, crowds, or the rush to produce/consume more and more and more.
How to get started
Choose a day with you and your loved ones as a day of rest. Invite others to take part, but don’t force it. You can, though, set boundaries with your friends and family and ask that they respect them. The more support you have, the more likely it is you’ll stick with your new habit.
Weekends work best for most people since those are usually days off work. The day of the week you choose makes little difference, but pick a day where you won’t be going to work . It should also be a day when you can cut loose many of your routine responsibilities with minimal impact on others.
What do I do?
What you do will vary with each person. Focus on self care. Choose activities that will help you reconnect with yourself and others on a personal level.
- Do some public service or volunteer work.
- Visit with friends and family. Is there an elderly or shut-in family member that could use a visit? This would be a great day to stop by and put a smile on their face.
- Attend worship services.
- When was the last time you went for a long walk?
- Is there a hobby you’ve been neglecting?
- When was the last time you focused your attention and listened closely to music you love?
- The list could go on and on.
Is there anything I shouldn’t do?
You’re an adult! Nobody will ground you if you break your own rules. But setting boundaries for yourself and keeping them improves your connection with yourself. It helps you feel like a person of integrity.
Some suggested things you may want to avoid can include
- the news
- social media
- your job
- medical or dental appointments
- going to movies, concerts, or sporting events
- outdoor sports
That little measure of self-discipline and self care can go a long way. What happens the day after your DOR?
You’ll return to work with your mind and body refreshed and ready to handle whatever the day has in store. Having taken some time to think about what’s really important to you, you’ll be able to spend your time on the most important tasks rather than just spinning your wheels with busy work.
You’ll feel more human! With your over all stress lowered, you’ll find your ability to be patient and compassionate, both with yourself and others, considerably increased.
You’ll have lower risk factors for deadly diseases.A day of rest can be a part of the rhythm of your life–a life extended and improved.
Doing our part
At The Good Life Massage, we are doing what we can to re-introduce a culture that embraces a day of rest and self care. From the beginning, we have only been open six days a week. We give our employees and our clients Sundays off. We encourage everyone to take one day a week to stop and reconnect. We know we’re giving up valuable business in doing this, but to us, self care is worth it. There are more important things than producing and consuming.
A day of rest is a chance to remember who you are: not a producer, not a consumer, not a follower, not a viewer, not a Facebook friend, not a cog in someone’s machine, but a whole and valuable human being.
Give it a try! And enjoy.
Share your experiences and challenges in the comments below.
Tom Gunn is the Marketing Director and official blog editor at The Good Life Massage. You can find him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet or on his website tgunnwriter.com