Have you ever gotten to the end of a “day off” and felt just as exhausted as you did at the beginning? Have you ever looked back over the day and wished for a do over?
God so kindly designed our lives to function best with one day out of seven as a day of rest. Although “the Sabbath” is not a New Testament requirement, time for rest is something God created us with a need for.
Many people, especially “Type A” leaders, struggle to take this time of rest to actually decompress mentally and emotionally and renew spiritually. (I know, because I am among those people.)
Here are seven suggestions that may be helpful:
- Turn off your phone. If you’re like me, your phone is the pipeline through which almost every other distraction flows. Turn it off if at all possible. If you can’t turn it off for accessibility reasons, at least disable your email and social media for the day.
- Don’t mix work and a day off. Worse than not taking a day off is the illusion you are taking a day off when you really are connected to work most of the day. Don’t try to mix the two. You will be more refreshed the next day if you totally disengage. And if your day off includes time with your family, you will be able to give them your focus.
- Plan your company. I love it when I can spend the day with Terrie or with our children and grandchildren. Sometimes it’s so helpful to plan time with replenishing friends. And sometimes it’s good to have a day alone. If you are single, I would encourage you to try to plan at least points in the day to connect with others who will be relationally and spiritually encouraging.
- Avoid idleness. If you plan to sleep, that’s great! But avoid sitting around all day watching television.
- Choose a location, and plan an activity. There are some things that do not replenish me and some that do. Shopping doesn’t help me unwind. Traveling to the coast with Terrie does. Family time with our kids or grandkids does. Sometimes staying home to read is helpful for getting rest. Just make sure your time is planned.
- Develop a hobby. For most of us in ministry, our lives are wrapped around what we do for others. It’s healthy to find a hobby that is not mentally draining and that we can look forward to engaging in occasionally. For me, this is golfing. I’m not particularly good at it and have no intention of putting the time in to become good at it, but it can be a nice way to relax with my sons or with friends. Perhaps for you it would be hiking or photography or painting or hunting.
- Engage in what you know will help. Sometimes I enter a day off so exhausted that nothing seems like it would feel replenishing. This is a signal to me to choose to do those things that I know are replenishing—spending time in God’s Word, getting out for exercise, reading, things that, even if I don’t feel like doing them in the moment, will make me feel good. You might find it helpful to make a list ahead of time of activities you know will be replenishing for you.
I’ve been a long-time learning how important it is to be intentional about resting. But I am learning that taking a day off—and planning to make that a time when I disengage and replenish—is a way of honoring God and acknowledging my dependence upon Him.
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.—Psalm 127:1–2
I hope these suggestions will help you to do the same.