The Power of the Day Off

Modern life is hectic, there’s no denying that. We are constantly “on” without a moment away from our gadgets and screens. Take a day off? You must be kidding. Oh, but it turns out that a day of rest is a critical part of a truly healthy lifestyle.

 Dr. Matthew Sleeth is a former emergency room doctor and hospital chief of staff. A pretty all-engrossing position, you must admit. But Dr. Sleeth gave up his position to spread the word about the power of a day of rest. Many religions have a Sabbath, a day of rest, a time for reflection and fellowship without the stresses of work. Dr. Sleeth believes that we have abandoned this concept to our peril.

 Dr. Sleeth has written a book called “24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life.” In that book he observes that nearly every culture had a tradition of the weekly Sabbath. Different cultures and religions chose different days to observe the Sabbath, but it is fundamental and inviolate. 

Modern society’s non-stop work stress has obvious problems. Many people suffer from exhaustion, high blood pressure, persistent headaches, anxiety and depression. Many of these symptoms can be traced back to the chemicals that our bodies release in response to constant stress.

 Adrenaline and steroids are examples of our body’s reaction to a short-term stress event. Unfortunately, if the stress events come too often, without some down-time to recover, our body can't cope. That brings on all of these physical ailments that are really manifestations of our schedule, not some disease.

So what can you do? First, accept that a 24/7 schedule will probably put you in an early grave. Even a Ferrari can’t race non-stop for weeks on end. By allowing yourself a day of rest, you will naturally become better at scheduling your time and prioritizing your activities. Very quickly you will discover the forgotten joys of time off. Time to spend with your family, with friends, or even… by yourself. Consider adopting the Sabbath. Any Sabbath. You might live longer.

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