I don't go to church but I have long loved the idea of taking a day off from the world. Our consumer culture is so strong and I am always going full steam ahead on one project or another and running around buying things or working so that I can buy more things so I can do more projects, etc. If I'm not working at a job on Sunday, I'll be working on a project or going on some huge hike which leaves me more tired come Monday.
Because I am single, its easy for me to keep going full steam ahead all the time and not take time out to just relax and hang out at home without some master productivity plan. I think that coupled people who live together are more likely to enjoy a day around the house doing nothing in particular because they don't have to go anywhere to socialize. Regardless of your coupled or non-coupled status, I am realizing how important observing my secular sabbath is to my mental and physical health!
I advocate for all people (but single work-a-holic types especially) to spend one day a week (whichever day works for you) to be thoughtful, reflective and to enjoy the most simple things in life. I have found that the following guidelines make my secular sabbath more enjoyable and restful not only physically but emotionally and mentally and yes, spiritually was well. Come Monday, I feel truly refreshed and ready to get back to work. You might have different guidelines (if so please comment), these are mine:
1. Plan for a Planless Day. My sabbath is off limits even to social plans. If a friend wants to get together great, he/she can call me when they're ready and just come on over to hang out.
2. Spending Free Day. Not only does this save money but it limits the amount of hustle and bustle in my life and forces me to do simple, quiet things at home and to be imaginative about my activities and/or catch up on reading.
3. Expect Nothing of Myself. I am a very planned, organized, productive person so this is a real challenge for me. I want to make a list of stuff to do like "write a blog, prepare garden for planting, clean the kitchen". There is something to be said for taking a day off from cleaning and chores. Cleaning and chores ARE work. If I am walking through the kitchen and spontaneously wash some dishes, great, that is a bonus, but this is one day where I am not going to shake my finger at myself for having a dirty house!
4. Enjoy the Emptiness. I feel super lazy on Sundays. If I am not intentional about observing my Secular Sabbath, I just get depressed because I don't feel like doing anything and that makes me feel like a looser. But if I just give myself the day off and intentionally only do things that I want to do in the moment I find that I a) surprise myself with the things I do get done and b) am way more productive the rest of the week.
5. Keep it Simple. The best activities for a secular sabbath are simple basic things like: sitting outside in the garden with the dogs, reading a book in bed, watching Big Love on DVD, writing love notes to long distance friends, writing my blog or in my journal, making a nice dinner and inviting a friend over, taking a bath, watering the yard, day dreaming.
6. Keep it Human Powered. This might be left over from my hippie days but I enjoy not using the car for a day. If I want to get out of the house I can walk (or ride my bike if I ever get around to fixing the brakes). Keeping things simple and close to home reminds me to be grateful for my home and to observe the small kingdom that is my neighborhood.
So, fellow Singlutionaries, do you observe a secular (or a not-so-secular) sabbath. What are your guidelines for a simple restful day off? Do you find that observing a secular sabbath enhances your quality of life? What obstacles do you have in setting one day aside to rest and relax?