For the past year, covid had forced changes in our lives. Research noted that even our sleep had changed; one study reported that while there was overall more sleep, the sleep quality had decreased1. Sleep deprivation is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems and lower immunity.
It is good for us to rest, and one of the ten commandments was the Sabbath day – a day when no work ought to be done.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.Exodus 20:8 (KJV)
While the Sabbath day is no longer mandatory (Colossians 2:16), we do not want to miss the reasons for this commandment.
- The Israelites were commanded to work for six days and rest on the seventh (Exodus 20:9). Work was therefore complementary to rest!
- Not only the Israelites, but the servants and cattle were also to rest (Exodus 20:10). This was radical then as it set the standard for equal rights.
- This was also to remember God’s work of creation in six days, and rest on the seventh (Exodus 20:11).
More significantly, allowing ourselves to rest is trusting in God. In Exodus 16, manna (bread) was gathered for six days but not on the seventh (Exodus 16 devotional). God still provided food on that day of rest.
One reason for poor sleep was stress and worry. It is not surprising then that while we may get more hours of sleep during covid, we are not getting better sleep. It is not easy to trust that things will work out when the world seems to be in a state of constant chaos. When we feel stressed, it helps to know that the same God who cared for our rest is watching over us.
Rest is more than not working
- Redefining what rest is
Rest is defined in this Psych Central’s article as ceasing work and worry, as “being, rather than doing.”2 In other words, we can be physically not doing any work, but not resting if we are plagued with worry. Rest could be more difficult during times of change, since change itself tends to create anxiety. There are many ways to reduce our worrying, and one of it is to be thankful for what we have (rather than worry about what we don’t) and knowing that God is in control.
Recommitting to rest
Rest is undoubtedly critical for our body, and even God rested. If we are the kind that tags a high importance to getting work done, we have to resolve to give rest that same priority. For me, this is what I am recommitting to:
- Telling myself it is ok if I cannot finish all the work that I have planned for the day, because I have tried my best today. Meaning that unfinished work is meant for tomorrow.
- Spending at least ten minutes taking deep breaths, meditating
- Taking the time to pray, journal my thanksgiving and read the bible – this may seem to take time away from work, but it allows me to have a restful mind when I work
- Budgeting for breaks after an hour of work – taking mini-breaks has been studied to increase productivity because it complements our brain which naturally works in bursts of high activity that last about an hour, and then it switches to low activity for a while3
- Tending to my relationship with God – how can I trust someone who I don’t know or talk to?
Resolving to Rest
Exodus 20 Journaling Prompt
Do you feel that you cannot rest? If so, what are the reasons that cause you to feel that way?
Have there been instances during the week when you feel you were rested?
God, I need to rest. I feel that I have to keep up the (good) work and if I don’t, then I am not as worthy/ valued. There have also been times when so many things called for my attention, and I hardly felt rested or calm during the week. Teach me first to trust in you and cease that frantic doing, but focus on being.
Books on Rest
Some books and a devotional on rest and sleep 😴
I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
1 Christine Blume, Marlene H. Schmidt, Christian Cajochen (2020). Effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on human sleep and rest-activity rhythms Current Biology, 30, R796-797. Effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on human sleep and rest-activity rhythms https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.06.021
2 Margarita Tartakovsky, MS. “How to Really Rest” Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-really-rest#1. Accessed 27 Jan 2021.
3 Zetlin, Minda. “For the Most Productive Workday, Science Says Make Sure to Do This” Inc. https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/productivity-workday-52-minutes-work-17-minutes-break-travis-bradberry-pomodoro-technique.html Accessed 27 Jan 2021