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This is a guest post by Eric Golban
This past Saturday I participated in a day of rest which meant:
- no working
- no physical activity
- no cooking
- no technology including phones, laptops, etc.
In Judeo-Christian religion, this is also known as keeping the sabbath. However, I didn’t do this for religious reasons, but rather for spiritual ones. A part of me also did it for research purposes, curious to see what benefits it may have (skip to the bottom of the article to see my results and thoughts). At first glance, taking an entire day of doing essentially nothing seems counterproductive, but there is good evidence to show that isn’t necessarily the case.
“God created the world in 6 days. He rested on the 7th day, not because he was tired but to set the precedent for humankind.”
Is A Day of Rest Productive?
If you ask your local Rabbi which of the 10 commandments to keep, you might be surprised by their answer. Initially, you may think it is ‘thou shall not kill’, but not killing someone is pretty obvious, you don’t really need a commandment to tell you that. Ultimately, they will probably land on the idea of keeping the sabbath. Behavior Economist and author Dan Ariely and podcast host Jordan Harbinger talk about this at the 29:28 mark on episode #417 of the Jordan Harbinger Show. Ariely goes on to explain:
If you think about progress in life, we think that taking a day off decreases progress but what we don’t see is how much freedom it gives us and how much clarity in mind and rest and so on.
This is very insightful, as often we tend to approach our projects and life in general with an AKM (Always Keep Moving) mindset. The idea of taking a break for an entire day sounds preposterous. However, human beings are not always ‘on’ creatures. We need rest to recharge our bodies and our minds. This is why we sleep at night or take naps during the day. It’s also why we might stay in some nights and lay in bed watching Netflix or reading a good book. Our battery is drained. Taking a day to rejuvenate yourself can have enormous effects on your mind and your body. It also allows you to remove yourself from your current situation and really reflect on the best approach moving forward once the day of rest is over.
This holds true in many aspects of life:
When exercising, it is important to take a rest day for your muscles to rebuild and become stronger. What actually happens when you lift weights is that your muscles get microtears, and as they rebuild, they become stronger. We need to give our bodies a chance to rebuild and become stronger. Never taking a rest day and overloading the body could result in serious injuries and be dangerous to our health. Our minds and bodies work the same way.
2 Day Weekend
Initially in America, workers only had 1 day off a week. This was on Sunday and largely due to religious reasons. Workers would get the day of for rest and worship.
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor company and one of the most influential factory owners of his generation, changed this in the early 1900’s. He saw the value of investing in his employees and changed the 1-day weekend into a 2-day weekend.
While a 2-day weekend is now the norm, many people at that time thought that a 40-hour work week was crazy and would make his company less productive. It’s the same idea as if people today pushed for a 3-day weekend instead of a 2-day weekend.
Ford saw the value of letting his employees rest and recharge. He also realized that allowing them to spend more time with their family would increase their overall happiness. He was confident that it would not hinder productivity, if anything it would help skyrocket it.
I was not sure what to expect when disconnecting from technology. Living in a world constantly surrounded by technology, I knew it would be strange to have no phone, no laptop, no Netflix…you get the point. However, when the time came, I didn’t miss it at all. It was almost a relief not having to constantly check my email, reply to messages, or google the first thought that popped into my mind. I knew I couldn’t, so I didn’t have to worry about it. Instead, I focused on:
- Walking Smokey
These are all things I normally do every day anyway. What I didn’t expect however, was how much time I spent with my family. So often in life it is easy to get caught up in a routine and being busy with multiple projects makes you spend less time on things that are important – like family.
I had a lot of fun playing cards, laughing, and just talking and enjoying each other’s company. There were no notifications or phone calls incoming, nothing on the news to talk about, no distractions at all. Just genuine conversation.
The day went by so fast, I didn’t even have time to do everything I planned on like journaling and longer meditations. I was also disappointed not to have spent as much time as I would have liked to on self-reflection, as most of that time was taken up being around family. Still, the day of rest by itself does bring a level of self-reflection and clarity, whether intentional or not.
Overall, it was not boring or challenging at all. It was almost too easy, to the point I felt that something was wrong…
But nothing was wrong. Taking a day to disconnect, reflect, and rest does not need to be a huge challenge. It can be a simple, routine task. Anyone can build it into their life whether it’s once a week, once a month, or even further out. When it was all over, I definitely did feel more recharged and ready to take on the world once again.