There remaineth therefore a day of rest for the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)
In Genesis, we read that God created the Earth and everything in it in just six days. On the seventh day, He rested. Creating us in His image and likeness, He gave us a weekly template. Why, then, do we have this constant need to always be working?
Later, in Hebrews, chapters three and four, we are reminded that this was not merely a suggestion. God commanded us to rest. Chapter three focused on the consequences of disobeying this command, while Hebrews 4:11 says,
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
As a society, we are not heeding His word, and the consequences of overwork are seen in the form of increased burnout and mental health issues. With work accessibility at an all-time high, we must urgently learn how to unplug.
LEARNING HOW TO UNPLUG
With the advent of smart devices, Wi-Fi, and hotspots, we now have the ability to be continuously plugged into work. And most of us always are. My husband and I went on our honeymoon in March and both of us spent a few hours on our phones and laptops working. It was not healthy, nor was it how we should have spent that precious time.
Here are a few small steps we could take to feel comfortable unplugging:
- Set timers for our social media use
- Put down our devices for at least an hour a day
- Take a whole Friday evening away from screens
- Take a whole weekend away from screens
- Take a whole vacation away from screens
And instead, we could pray, read, go for a walk, work out, spend time with our family, go to church or adoration, learn a new skill or hobby, etc.
Job expectations are intangible rules set by our managers. While they are helpful in defining work priorities, and are perhaps unspoken “dos” and “don’ts,” they can also be damaging. Technology has made it not only possible, but often expected of employees to be reachable 24/7. But hear this: it is okay to say “no.” Unless something is dire, you must set boundaries.
The moral of the story is this: When you are not at work, you are on personal, not company time. That includes evenings, weekends, holidays, and vacations. Let your employer and coworkers know that you truly need and value time off. It will be in everyone’s best interest, because you need to help yourself before you can help others. The ability to unplug and recharge, from time to time, will also make you better at what you do.
HELPING YOURSELF FIRST
I am sure you are familiar with the phrase “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” It is the philosophical equivalent to a flight attendant’s guidance to “put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.” When you are empty – whether it’s of oxygen, energy, or love – you have nothing left to give. That means all your relationships suffer: at work, at home, and of most concern, in your soul. You must free yourself from the shackles of work to truly fill yourself back up. Do that by prioritizing:
- Spending time with God
- Spending time with family
- Taking a vacation
- Doing something you love
Tell yourself it is okay to go on a spiritual retreat, take a spa day, take your kids to the park, take your spouse on a romantic weekend – to take time for you and what you hold dear. When we fill ourselves up with those we love and with God’s word, we are better equipped to go out into the world and give love and spread God’s word. Taking the time to recharge, physically and spiritually, will ultimately make us better leaders, employees, family members, friends, and stewards of God.
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