How To Live Longer
Recently someone asked me how my day was, I replied without thinking. “Good, I worked a half-day in the office and had a chill afternoon at home.” Then I realised, “Wait no! It wasn’t chill, I was doing housework all afternoon.”
I reflected on my answer a bit later. My default assumption was that if I was not at Work then I was not working. But that is just not true!
I had also said it was “chill”, implying that there had been resting or relaxing involved. There was not! I had been working through a list of chores.
Clearly, I have some internal re-writing to do. But I also wonder how often I assume that I should feel relaxed after doing an activity that was “less work” than Work? Why would I expect myself to feel rejuvenated after doing housework?
I read a book recently called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, by John Marc Comer. Through the course of the book, he outlines motivations behind, and ways to, slow down. One of the things he endorses is Sabbath. For those who aren’t familiar with the word, Sabbath is a historical and religious term. It traditionally refers to dedicating one day a week to resting and worship.
For most people, Sabbath traditions are watered down or forgotten, even within churches. Our culture runs on a 24/7 schedule, and rest has been relegated to the dead. I know I struggle to keep boundaries around time for resting – see the above thought patterns as proof!
One thing that stunned me as I read Comer’s chapter on Sabbath was its life-giving nature. Rest is restorative. And not just on a “get what you give” ratio. Comer talks about how God rested on and blessed, the seventh day, causing it to be fruitful in nature. He goes on to talk about studies that point to this life-giving nature. Studies reveal that Seventh-Day Adventists live 10 years longer than the surrounding average. Seventh-Day Adventists are known for their healthy lifestyles. One aspect of this lifestyle is keeping strong Sabbath traditions. It is literally in their name – Seventh Day – the day of rest! Comer acknowledges that the returns on Sabbath are not a mathematical equation... but he did the maths. Resting one day every week of the average life span adds up to approximately 10 years. He implies that taking one day of Sabbath rest adds one day to the length of your life. You don’t lose a day when you rest, you gain an extra one - that's fruitful!
Of course, there are other factors involved in living a long and healthy life. But by gosh, if I can extend my life by resting, I want to put my hand up for that!
Cultivating and protecting rhythms of rest (and worship for those in faith communities) means stepping away from work, striving, and hustle. And when we are able to do this consistently we are rejuvenated. I know it is cliché, but it’s true: Rather than surviving life, we begin to thrive.
Maybe you already spend a day each week resting. Maybe not. How might you take steps towards giving yourself a whole day to rest?
If you do spend a day resting, does it involve life-giving activities and routines? How might you plan rejuvenation into those patterns of rest?
I have got some work to do on my Sabbath experience – ha did you catch that one? :)
Here are a few ideas that I am trying to incorporate:
Screen reduction/removal from my times of rest
Physical rest - Waking up without an alarm and allowing for sleep-ins - Choosing low-impact exercise or none!
Fuelling my body with really good food. Not just food that is healthy, but also seriously delicious foods! I want to increase mindful enjoyment of my food
Connection and disconnection from close friends and family – as an introvert who loves people, I find this one is tricky!
Time out in nature – How restful is watching a sunset? Or a walk on the beach? Hugely restful.
Having fun, playing games, being creative and exploring – all things that come naturally to kids and which are so restorative! But as an adult, I find them hard to indulge in!
I am aiming to dedicate one day a week to Sabbath rest, as well as a long weekend every quarter. What about you? How will you invest in life-giving rest this week?
I'd love to hear about your experience of resting regularly (or not!), so send me a friendly email: firstname.lastname@example.org,