About a year ago, I began observing Sunday Sabbath, and it has made a big difference in how I manage stress and handle the demands of living in a fast-paced world. Taking a full day of rest has helped me to create and nurture a consistent, wholesome work-life balance.
My husband and I heard a sermon at our church about a family who had been observing Sabbath for over a decade, and their personal testimony about how it changed their lives for the better, made us stop and think twice about how we spent our time on Sundays. We were inspired to give it a try.
I work a salaried job during the week, and teach yoga on weekends. My husband runs his own business Monday through Saturday. We have two dogs and a baby on the way. At first, it was tempting to work a little bit on Sundays. For example, I wanted to be able to pick up a class to substitute teach on Sunday in order to earn some extra money, and my husband wanted to check his work e-mail and log in to his business accounts.
However, we stuck to our commitment to not take work-related actions, and it has resulted in both of us enjoying intimate and meaningful time together on Sundays, as well as feeling more refreshed when we start the work-week on Monday morning.
When artists paint a picture, there is something that appears called “negative space.” Essentially, it’s the space formed around an object, and in many ways, is just as important as the object itself.
While the viewer may not consciously register the negative space because they are focused on the main object, the negative space actually gives the eye room to rest, further highlighting the focal point of the painting. So it is with downtime.
For me, slowing down on Sunday creates a much-needed contrast to my busy life. Resting on Sundays allows me to work more productively and to shine more vibrantly when I am active.
I believe that the concept of Sabbath can be adopted even if you are not Christian, or if you follow a secular or different religious day of rest.
I’ve noticed the hashtag #SelfCareSunday showing up in my Twitter feed, with people tweeting about the ways they are relaxing and taking care of themselves on Sundays. This sounds very healthy to me.
In Buddhism, the “Uposatha” is a day for cleansing the mind, and it is based on lunar cycles and is observed every seven or eight days. In Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, Verse 29, explains that: “There is a time for being ahead, / a time for being behind; / a time for being in motion, / a time for being at rest.”
In the New Testament in the Bible, Jesus Christ’s resurrection was on the first day of the week — Sunday — and he continued to appear on succeeding Sundays, which is in part why Christianity adopted Sunday as a day of rest.
On Sundays at my house, we stick to the following boundaries: no checking work e-mails, no going to the office, no work phone calls. We sleep in late if we want to, attend church, volunteer, visit with friends or family, cook slower meals, take naps, play with our dogs, call people we haven’t spoken to in awhile, and spend time outside.
On any given Sunday, you might also find me snoring and asleep on our living room couch with a pile of books I planned to read stacked on the coffee table. Our dogs fall asleep on the couch beside me in a cozy nest of blankets. My husband sits in his reclining chair and plays a game or watches sports on T.V. The afternoon sun shines brightly through all the windows and life feels good.
Observing the Sabbath has also eliminated distractions, and freed up time for me and my husband to have in-depth conversations. We get a chance to chew on tough topics that may have come up earlier in the week that we didn’t have time to talk about previously. More peace and joy has ensued.
On this day of rest, I also find myself praying, meditating, and connecting to God in ways that I might not otherwise make the time for on weekdays. I find myself feeling happy. I cultivate peace, patience, and compassion for myself on this day. As a result, I’m better able to extend those feelings towards other people.
Originally published for Medium on March 13th, 2017.