I’ve been thinking recently about the benefits of reclaiming some practices that may now be considered to be old-fashioned. A delightful, handwritten card from a client reminded me of the pleasures of receiving unexpected mail. There was the tactile delight of holding it in my hands, a feeling of appreciation for the thought that went behind selecting the card, as well as stringing words together without the benefit of a delete button, finding a stamp and physically posting the letter. I have suitcases full of old mail received from friends and family that still give me joy, from my decades of living away from my homeland. Yet so many emails are now marooned on my increasing pile of outdated computers.
When I read The Lost Practice of Resting One Day Each Week at Zen Habits it struck me how something so basic is now considered outdated. With entertainment and shopping available 24 hours a day, the delineations in the working week are easily lost. I had a moment of clarity about the diminishing boundaries of my work and non-work time. I’m disciplined at keeping direct contact with clients to my clinic days. However I tweet and compile newsletters, as well as research my radio show, maintain a website and update my accounts outside my three “work” days a week. Being a small businessperson means there’s potential “bleeding” of work-related activities into non-work spaces. For the salary man or woman it may be no better – taking work home to “catch up”, early mornings and late nights flying interstate and the loss of boundaries inherent in having of a company-owned mobile phone.
Is one day off a week possible?
On the surface, the concept of a day off each week may seem obvious. Some of us may be experts at ignoring work outside of office hours but what actually is a day off?
Not having a religious childhood I never experienced a true day of rest but I like the cultural practice of once a week not driving and spending a day at home, without turning on a computer or connecting to the internet. Or for some, like a childhood friend, a day off meant family-only time when he only spent time with his siblings and parents. What it comes down to is the idea of quarantining 24 consecutive hours a week, to give yourself permission to ignore extra-curricular activities and rest in a way meaningful for you.
Can you do it?
My challenge this month has been to designate a rest day each week and banish all work related activities. This has meant no research or writing and a self-imposed twitter ban. So far this month I’ve ridden my bike every weekend, attended Buddha Day at Federation Square and this weekend the laptop will remain firmly closed as I head off to the mountains for a few days.
What does a day of rest mean to you?