Sunday, April 29, 2012

Taking a Break

You would be amazed at the number of people I treat who never take a day off. Or maybe you wouldn't be surprised--maybe you don't take a break, either. I don't mean a "working break"--going to the beach with your laptop and email, and doing business while you watch the kids play. While it may be a nice fill in, that doesn't cut it for a real break.

I mean a day off--a real, no one can reach me, don't call me, business is put down for while--no work--day off. The kind we used to take when no one had email or cell phones. The world didn't end because someone else had to fill in for a day or two, and people were able to recharge. To really separate themselves from their jobs, and relax without interruption.

I am fortunate that my religious practices give me that break. Every 7th day, I take the day OFF. Nothing short of a true emergency (the Bible calls it "an ox in a ditch"-you're the only one there to help, and great suffering will result if you don't act) will intrude on my break, called the Sabbath. Even 50 years ago, most people had a day set aside for rest and their spiritual practice. These days, even those devoted to their beliefs hesitate to take time away from work for spiritual renewal. Throughout the year, I keep other religious festivals ranging from one day to over a week to celebrate my beliefs and remind me life is more than my career, however rewarding it may be.

Having those times off is truly a blessing. Because it is part of my belief system, it transcends my temporary wants and needs. It's a rule in my life, so I don't have to rethink it each week or each year and decide if I "can afford"-financially or otherwise--to "miss" the time. It's regular, so I don't have long stretches of unbroken work with no relief in sight. As I keep my renewal days, I incorporate spiritual practice to the exclusion of housework or yard work, so my "day off" doesn't become "cleaning day," as happens to so many others. My mind gets a rest from teasing out patient problems, house duties, paperwork, phone calls, and all the other little things that constitute work. I spend times with like-minded friends and family, and come back refreshed.

I got into my profession because I love what I do, but even a job you love will wear you down with no breaks. Whatever your beliefs, consider giving yourself one day a week to be completely disengaged from work of any kind. At first it may seem overly indulgent, impossible, or even slightly crazy--but I've done it most of my life, and once you establish it as a personal rule, you'd be surprised how easy--and essential--it becomes.

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