Sabbath or a Weekly Day of Rest

Hello there! I’m writing this on a Friday afternoon as I anticipate Greg getting home from work and the beginning of our weekend. Although I’ve mentioned it a few times here (last week to slow down, with inspiration, as an excuse, and as a kickoff to progressive cooking), I can’t believe I haven’t written a post about Sabbath in our home. It’s a great way for us to slow down at the end of the week and remember what's important as we turn our focus inward.

A few years ago I was searching for a way to get Greg off of the laptop for part of the weekend... this might sound a bit manipulative but it comes from a good place and it’s worked out ;) We had slowed down our lives successfully by editing our calendars and removing our excess possessions but I wasn’t feeling that connection that I craved. We both needed time to unwind and space to re-energize. I flirted with a digital sabbatical experiment and as I did some research, I realized what we needed was a weekly Sabbath. We needed that long span of time at the end of the week to do very little, recover from stress, and reconnect with each other. We needed a full day of rest.

I never practiced Sunday Sabbath as a child so I was really drawn to some elements of the Jewish Sabbath. Most religions have a day of rest and as we become too busy to take it, we may be getting more depressed. Greg and I drafted some guidelines for rest and we've been practicing something similar ever since!

+ Start on Friday at sundown,
right after work and continue until Saturday at sundown. Say a little something before starting, to acknowledge the shift and set intentions for the time.

+ Enjoy a nourishing meal as a family. Friday tends to be slow-cooker day around here so our Friday night meal is pretty easy and sometimes we have challah and wine! Include the aforementioned benediction? Great! Add a candle and dim the lights? Even better!

+ Limit cooking and cleaning. Other than Saturday breakfast, we try to stay out of the kitchen and away from the laundry. Also, limit shopping. And spending money in general.

+ Make it a digital sabbatical as well. No screens for 24 hours! (We’re constantly working on this one.) For us, this means laptops and controllers put away in a box but phones out for maps and photos. TV and Facebook are not restful.

+ Sleep and maybe get bored! Go to bed early, sleep in if you can, and take a nap after breakfast. This is where the actual rest comes in. And getting bored isn't a bad thing, that's when we get some of our best ideas.

So what to do instead? Read! Hike! Meditate! Have long conversations! Sit and smile! Consider a spiritual practice! Get reacquainted with quiet! Enjoy life!

You know I love rituals! Weekly Sabbath has become an important part of our routine and an important tool to break our routine. It helps us unwind at the end of the week, reset our nervous systems and patience, reconnect as a family as we focus on being present with each other, and catch up on sleep to re-energize for the weekend. (Greg might miss his laptop though;).

++ This weekly ritual was inspired by Tiffany Shlain’s Weekly Technology Shabbat: “Time slows down when you’re not online”. And for the future, I’m considering Friday Night Meatballs with our community. <3

Creating an Evening Routine

Evenings are a little unpredictable around here. As I mentioned in Creating a Morning Routine, I don’t always know if I’m going to see Greg in the evening or what time I’ll be home. We both workout some nights and work on others, we socialize and go on dates. I’m not really a night owl so when I get home, I usually want to wash up and crawl into bed.

While I like to reserve most of my planning/creating/productivity for the mornings when I have more energy and more resolve, I prefer my evenings focused on winding down. I like to let go of the day and refresh my energy for tomorrow. On the other hand, if you’re not a morning person, a fuller evening routine and a simpler morning routine might work for you.

We’ve had an outline for an evening routine for years but since it requires being home a little while before bed, we rarely follow it to a T. That’s changing this month! With our new monthly experiment, In Bed by 10, we’re at home by 9:30pm every evening and are taking the space to relax and prepare before bed. For me, it’s important to start doing this routine before I’m exhausted… I’m less lazy about putting things away and self care. A good evening ritual helps you close the book on the day, prepare for more restorative sleep, and set yourself up for a fabulous tomorrow!

1. Prepare for tomorrow. Quickly check over your schedule to make sure there are no early appointments or things that need to be prepped. Also make sure there isn’t any communication that can’t wait until tomorrow. It’s hard to fall asleep with a to-do like that on your mind. (I don’t plan out my day or select the most important things to accomplish as it would probably wake me up so I do that in the mornings.)
2. Pick up. Pick up the house a little bit (empty out your bag from the day!), do the dishes if you have the energy, and change then put away your clothes. It’s more calming to fall asleep in a clutter-free environment and it’s definitely nicer to wake up to one.
3. Lower the lights. Your body needs a signal that it’s time to power down. Bright lights prevent the release of melatonin which is the hormone that makes you sleepy. Keep the lights in your bedroom at a low wattage or on dimmers to support your circadian rhythms. Candles also work. We have a friend whose lights automatically change to a warmer and softer hue at a programmed time in the evenings. Cool!
4. Unwind. It’s helpful to find a way to brain dump or release the drama of the day before settling in. Meditating works, taking a walk works, washing up or a beauty ritual works, and of course journaling works!
5. Read. Set aside a little time for a relaxing activity (preferably screen-free). Read an undemanding book or do a crossword before the lights go out. Sweet dreams <3

To help get better rest, 5 INESSENTIALS TO REMOVE:
1. Work and Email: These will turn your mind on, not off. Charge your phone away from you bed so notifications don’t distract you.
2. Screens for watching entertainment: This is a hard one for me but the blue light of screens is even worse for sleepiness than the bright lights mentioned above. And I love what Gretchen Rubin said“If we’re too tired to do anything except watch TV or cruise the internet, go to sleep.”
3. Social Media & Internet Browsing: Remember this article mentioned in Creating a Morning Routine: “Here’s how the Internet hurts your sleep schedule, productivity and personal life”? + From The Onion: “4 Hours Scrolling Through Facebook Before Bed Referred To As ‘Winding Down’” ;)
4. Food, Caffeine and Alcohol: You know what caffeine does and eating right before bed hinders digestion and disrupts the quality of your sleep... those hormones again. I love an evening cocktail but after a few, you get that sugar hit waking you up at 3 in the morning. Ugh.
5. Vigorous exercise, or anything that revs you up: It’s probably best to avoid stimulating hormones and an increased heart rate right before bed.

What about you? What helps you unwind? Evening and morning routines should be about what you want to do in that time as much as what you have to do. Enjoy!