“On the seventh day thou shalt rest.” Once a week G-d commands us to sit back, take a break, reboot and restore balance in our lives. Even though we have been handed this gift of rest and rejuvenation, many of us do not appreciate the benefits of this. What is the importance of taking time out?
Fast forward to 2015 and even 10 years ago our lives were not this chaotic. We have become accustomed to working in stress-filled environments, operating under strenuous deadlines and put under pressure whether we are in the workplace or at home. We take on far more than we should and struggle to say ‘no’ occasionally. Burnout has become a term I hear about frequently amongst family, friends and clients so I began to look at it more closely.
I wondered to myself why this was the case, what were the barriers to us being able to regulate our lives and most importantly what are the outcomes for those of us who do not take time out for ourselves.
For many of us, our lives and relationships become chaotic, overwhelming and stressful. The impact of stress on our mind, body and soul should be enough to convince anyone to take time out; yet we don’t. Stress impacts our mood, disturbs chemical processes in the body, increases levels of fatigue and much more. Shabbat presents us with the ideal opportunity to reduce these impacts, where we are encouraged to take time out, be with family and loved ones and to reconnect. Technology alone has robbed us of a great deal of connection amongst one another and it is our responsibility to try to restore this.
Here are some suggestions to taking time out: meditation, exercise, breathing and connection. The keeping of Shabbat incorporates all of these healthy elements and here is how each of these is beneficial for us.
Meditation may seem tricky for some of us whose minds feel crowded and busy; but with some practice you may begin to enjoy this. Prayer is the most wonderful form of meditation and sometimes just sitting in shul surrounded by others in prayer can bring an overwhelmingly peaceful, calming sensation over us.
Exercise and virtually all types of movement reduce stress in the body and release those wonderful ‘feel good’ hormones to improve our mood. A walk to shul or to Shabbos lunch is a wonderful way to be out in the fresh air and get your body moving. We so often forget to breathe and to slow down. Having no attachment to work or other responsibilities whilst you are keeping Shabbat gives you the opportunity to be still and get in touch with where you are at. We are always so busy doing, that many of us need to learn to enjoy just being.
Often over Shabbat we surround ourselves with family and friends. Whether it is over a Shabbos meal or sitting next to a parent in shul, we are given this time for reconnection. The enjoyment of being with those we love can ignite a deep sense of happiness and belonging. As we enter into Shabbat, I encourage you to put yourselves first by taking the gift of Shabbat
with both hands and taking time out for yourself.