How to Slow Down and Appreciate Life

written by Roger Carr on July 6, 2013 in Avoiding Burnout with one comment">one Comment

I spent Independence Day with my wife and several friends this week. The day was filled with fantastic food, great conversation and stories, spectacular fireworks on the lake, plenty of rest, and even watching the acrobatics of a large family of Purple Martins. We made it our Sabbath Day for this week.

This is a practice I recently started.

observing sabbath day

I captured this scene from my beach chair while celebrating Independence Day with friends

You need to have a weekly day of rest, attentiveness, and appreciation and make it a habit. This day is your Sabbath Day. Make it a high priority.

It is not easy to set aside a day a week in this busy world. If you don’t make it a high priority, other things will fill your calendar and the need for Sabbath will soon be a distant memory. Most importantly, you will also suffer from not having the benefits of Sabbath working for you.

If something important comes up on your planned day, move your Sabbath to another day that week. Don’t allow the week to go by without your day of rest.

Signs of Burnout

Mark Buchanan wrote a terrific book about Sabbath entitled The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. He describes Sabbath as both a day and an attitude. In his book, he initially describes an unpleasant state that he was in. Although he didn’t call it burnout, it had the signs of burnout. For example, he wrote:

It happened subtly, over time; but I noticed at some point that the harder I worked, the less I accomplished…I grew easily irritable, paranoid, bitter, self‐righteous, gloomy. I was often argumentative: I preferred rightness to intimacy. I avoided and I withdrew.”
— Mark Buchanan

Observing Sabbath helped restore Mark Buchanan, it can help you and me get out of burnout and stay out of burnout as well.

What Is Sabbath?

Sabbath is a day and attitude of rest, attentiveness, and appreciation. It is not intended to be a day of staying in bed all day. Yes, rest can be a part of it. But it is also a day to slow down and be mindful of those things we tend to miss when our lives are so busy.

Have a Sabbath Day

Pay attention to the small things. Take notice of the great things you never paid attention to before. Watching the antics of a family of Purple Martins this week was fascinating. It required me to slow down and be still in order to enjoy the experience.

Go through the day with an extra dose of gratitude. Think about what you are thankful for. Consider writing your gratitude list in a journal that you can review from time to time. If there are people who come to mind, consider writing a quick note of thanks to them. You will feel great and it will give them a boost as well. I keep several packages of notecards on hand so I am prepared each time the desire hits me.

Rest is also a part of Sabbath. It may be in the form of lounging and sleeping. But it can also be in the form of hobbies, recreation, and enjoying others to rest your mind from the week’s activities.

Indeed, this is the essence of a Sabbath heart: paying attention.
— Mark Buchanan

Once we discipline ourselves to consistently have a Sabbath Day and slow down, we reap many benefits.

Benefits of Sabbath

There are many benefits to observing Sabbath:

  • It gets us out of the mode of busyness
  • It allows us to be attentive to the things around us
  • It provides us a better understanding of who we are and who God is
  • It reminds us that we need to slow down to recover from the busyness that can occur in our lives
  • It provides many forms of healing in our lives

First our minds are renewed, and then we are transformed, and then everything is different, even if it stays the same.”
— Mark Buchanan.

I wish I could say I have consistently practiced Sabbath every week since I started. I can’t. It is difficult with all of the things that are pressuring us for our time. However, each time I failed to do it, my next week suffers from it. Sabbath is now a high priority for me because I have experienced this first hand. I challenge you to schedule a Sabbath Day on a weekly basis and make it a high priority.

Do you observe Sabbath? How has it helped you? How do you consistently practice Sabbath in this noisy world? Please leave a comment with your experiences.

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