Give Yourself a Break

31Someone once observed that Judaism’s greatest gift to humanity was not monotheism but rather the idea of a Sabbath. A time to hit the pause button, taking the seventh day to be, not do. A time to live off the labors of the previous six and give gratitude for creation. Not just one day a week, but every seventh year. And amazingly, in the fiftieth year, to have what’s called a Jubilee year. In Biblical times Jubilees included freeing the slaves, a bold act of socio-economic re-engineering. There’s lots of planning and trust involved.

There’re suggestions (okay instructions) for how to be and yes also do’s/don’t’s about how to spend your time and energy. But they aren’t organized around running errands, getting your lawn mowed, or cheering for your favorite team. They’re about taking time to rest, to pray, to learn, and to make love. Not a bad day, and one many might yearn for Monday through Friday.

When you think weekend, do you also think to-do lists, even the ones that include fun line items like friends and playtime? What takes priority? Why does scheduling regular down time sound so unrealistically pie-in-the-sky? Why’s it so hard to give yourself a break?

One reason: we’re trained since childhood to value of our lives by what we accomplish, by what we can point to as products of our skills and talents. To be able to say proudly, I made that!, whether that’s a misshapen vase in a pottery class or a knockout PowerPoint presentation.

So what happens if you give yourself a break? If you trust, as we’re told to do, that the work you’ve done in days/years one through six should be enough to provide for you in the seventh? That it’s okay to vision and dream, not labor?

You’ll have to trust that the rest and regeneration you’ll get from not doing, from not being in motion or crossing something off your to-do list, is also a benefit. Ditto not fretting that you’ll be more harassed and stressed just by finding relaxation time, or fearing you’ll pay for it later. That there are benefits to what outsiders might write off as day dreaming.

These benefit are short-run and long-, tangible and immeasurable. Benefits that will pay off in ways your now you doesn’t yet have words or imagery for. But remind her to say thanks later, when she realizes that gifting yourself some chill and mellow has not just slowed you down and softened you, but given you a new sense of possibility.

Exercise: Take some daydreaming time each week. Organize your world to insulate yourself from your regular reality for at least a few hours on a regular basis. Get some colored pens. Write down how you wish your life looked and felt. Repeat every seven days. Write down whatever you’re dreaming of, no matter how ridiculous it sounds. You can make it pretty later, when you have more time and energy. Then we’ll work on making it real.

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