Are you always trying to fit more accomplishment into the 24-hour span of one day? Do you feel at times as though you’re “spinning your wheels” to accommodate the demands of family, work, and social obligations?
Though it may sound contradictory, one of the best ways to increase your productivity is by adding one more thing to your “to do” list – self-care. Most of us are familiar with the instruction given to us once boarding a plane. We are reminded that, in the event of any emergency, it’s important for us to put the oxygen mask on our own face before attempting to assist anyone else with the same task. The idea, of course, is that if we fail to care for ourselves first, we may not have to worry about anyone else.
In his book, “Sabbath; Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives” Wayne Muller tells us, “…life has become a maelstrom in which speed and productivity have become the most valued commodities. Sabbath honors the necessary wisdom of dormancy. If certain plant species, for example, do not lie dormant for the winter, they will not bear fruit in the spring. If this continues for more than a season, the plant begins to die. A period of rest – in which nutrition and fertility most readily coalesce – is not simply a human psychological convenience; it is a spiritual and biological necessity.”
When our well-being is not a priority, our lives can become personal assembly lines in which our primary interest is accomplishing the next assignment. We live for another completed task or project rather than the exquisite nature of the miracle of life in our midst.
It is alright – in fact it is noble – to prioritize time for your own personal relaxation, rest, renewal and reflection. A period of recharge is a way of wisdom for those who realize that our greatest contributions are made when we are well-rested, at peace, and undisturbed by the demands of daily living.
Put yourself on your calendar – for an hour, for a day, for a weekend or longer. Prioritize the time you need to energize yourself from within. At the end of the day, it’s not the person who reaches the finish line first that wins. The true winner is the one who has enjoyed a balanced and rewarding journey to the finish line, and they take the time they require for rest and renewal.
Set a schedule for your Sabbath. Find periods for renewal on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. Add the ingredients of nature, meditation or a good book. Light candles, sing songs, tell stories, eat and nap.
In a somewhat miraculous way, you’ll begin to find your life accommodating your priority of self-care. You’ll be more productive and pleased with your accomplishments. You’ll be contributing to your health and well-being in a way that will allow you to better appreciate the quality of the life you work hard to provide for yourself and your loved ones.
Written by Rev. Chris Jackson
Senior Minister, Unity on the Bay