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A Sabbath’s rest: How to relax and reconnect in the modern world


“How are you?”

If you’re tempted to answer “busy” more often than “fine,” you’re not alone.

Since technology has brought email, smartphones and cloud storage into our homes, many of us are keeping tabs on work far beyond the classic 9-to-5 workday. We can shop online all night, visit the 24-hour grocery store and hit the gym 24/7.

Even weekends don’t bring much relief as we try to catch up. The week’s laundry and yardwork await our attention. Shopping needs to be done, cars washed, and kids hauled to activities and birthday parties.

Between taking a few minutes on Saturday night to put the finishing touches on your PowerPoint presentation and combing through work emails and calendars on Sunday to prepare for another busy week ahead, you may wake up Monday morning wondering what happened to your weekend.

Is it any wonder sleep disorders, mood disorders and burnout are on the rise?

Interrupting the endless cycle of busyness

When Adventist Health began its journey to share God’s love through healing not just bodies but minds and spirits, the Sabbath—a day of rest Seventh-day Adventists keep from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, in keeping with biblical instruction—was part of its core.

Rather than being an obligation, Sabbath, which comes from the Hebrew word for “rest,” was given as a gift to humankind so we can put away our daily work for one day each week.

Even for non-Adventists and the nonreligious, a day of rest is a key way to restore balance to your life. The importance of a day of rest is backed up by studies showing how mental rest days make us more productive while physical rest days help build muscle and prevent injury. Read on to learn more about taking a day of rest, and how you can integrate this weekly break into your life.

A modern day of rest

Terry Johnsson, Adventist Health’s executive director of mission integration for the Pacific Northwest Region, tells about an Adventist Health employee who became curious about the Sabbath through her work. “She had been working too much,” Johnsson explains. “She decided to keep Sabbath as a family day.”

The woman took her family hiking or to the beach each Saturday. They also rested and took time away from TV.

Rather than making her week harder because of taking a day off, this employee ended up feeling recharged. “She ended up going back to school because she suddenly had more energy,” Johnsson says.

He adds that many people who experiment with a day of rest find their creativity is restored and their marriages and families revitalized.

Changing how you manage your week takes a commitment, Johnsson admits. “You have to decide to truly commit, to mark the time out of your busy schedule,” he says. “Discuss your desire with your family and ask them to join you.”

Four ways to get your family on board

So how do you get your family on board? Johnsson and Ethan Bird, Adventist Health’s wellness director, suggest some benefits you can pitch to your family:

  1. Escape from homework and housework: While adults are worrying about work, housework and parenting, children and teens are often just as stressed about school, extracurricular activities, chores and homework. Your entire family may relish the idea of a one-day escape from their to-do list.
  2. Reconnect with friends and family: A day dedicated away from “labor” is a great opportunity to reconnect as a family or spend time with friends. Share a meal together, take a hike or sit together and relax in your yard or a nearby park.
  3. Spend time on causes you believe in: Many of us care passionately about the world around us. You and your family can use your day off to support refugees, work against sex-trafficking, clean up a beach or park, or help fight homelessness and addiction.
  4. Explore your spirituality: In the middle of today’s busy lifestyle, your spirit may be crying for quiet. Silencing the phones, tablets, reminders and alarms gives you and your family a chance to reconnect with God and gain a sense of something bigger than your daily lives. Sabbath can be “a time of reflection,” Bird explains. “Sabbath gives a sense of story and place.”

An ancient solution to a modern problem

Though a weekly day of rest dates back thousands of years, the Sabbath remains a useful answer to our modern problem of busyness and the endless demands we face day and night.

Relieving the pressure of daily life is an important part of your whole-person health and wellness. “You can never give enough,” Johnsson says. “You have to stop the cycle.”

Sabbath rest is a gift that really does keep on giving as you and your family go through the week restored, relaxed and recharged.