Updated: Sep 26, 2018
I miss Sunday dinners.
I miss the years when stores weren't open one day a week and families passed time around the table, on the front porch, or with the kids playing board games. Productivity wasn't the priority, rest was. Many got a solid 24 hours to break from the normal routine.
These days, Americans are addicted to stimulation and yet often feel tired.
Rest used to be built into the fiber of our society, but has been stripped by technology. Instead of rest, we often rely on our screens to provide stimuli and entertainment.
Technology has brought a lot of good to the table, but we need to deliberately unplug from it in order to truly rest.
Research proves productivity suffers when we don't rest.
How can we rest without involving our screens?
Here are a few ideas:
Napping. Depending on the length of the nap, our body yields different results. I prefer the cat nap (15-20 minutes), which elevates mood and enhances alertness. Read more about what napping does here.
Meditation. Much like napping, it improves concentration. It also reduces stress, increases happiness, and even slows aging. You can meditate by using apps, or by reading excellent prose, scripture, or any writer that helps you pause and think.
Doing something Creative. Taking a break from our normal routine to do something creative can be as energizing and life-affirming as meditation. It also improves medical outcomes, reduces stress, and increases positive thoughts.
Silence and/or Nature walks. Both relieve stress, lowers blood pressure, reactivates brain cells, and brings an overall sense of well-being. When we allow our minds to wander, daydream, and not be stimulated by external technological sources, we tap into our inner stream of thoughts and memories. This helps make sense of our lives. Peace and strength come over us.
Sabbath: All of the above "rests" can be practiced for shorter periods of time, but the sabbath rest is a 24 hour one. Sabbath means to cease - cease from all labors. To completely unplug from the normal routine improves body, soul, and spirit. Our mental state resets.
Interestingly, America is the most depressed nation in the world. Could it be because we no longer take a sabbath rest?
What happens when we don't rest?
When we don't regularly rest, our body releases hormones and chemicals to counteract the constant stress and eventually, it breaks down.
We don't function as well at work or home.
Unplugging for 24 hours helps reset our body and mind.
There's an ancient scripture verse that says,"Those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind." (Isaiah 40:31)
It all starts with waiting and resting.
Taking a whole day to daydream, walk, be quiet, have a slow dinner, and basically ignore technology is possibly the most life-giving thing we can do for ourselves.
The benefits far outweigh the time we'll spend away from work or electronics.