Reclaiming a Day for Ourselves: A Day of Rest

In Articles, HP Featured Recipe, Mind, Body, Health by Lori Hill6 Comments


A day of rest, or a sabbath, is common in many religions.

When I was a kid in the early 70s, we had to take a day of rest because there was nothing else to do! Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where I lived, had blue laws. They prohibited the sale of booze — and just about anything else — on Sundays. Grocery stores, and even Park City, our huge shopping mall with 4 anchor department stores and hundreds of smaller retailers, was closed. And being Lancaster, Amish and Mennonite-owned businesses and tourist attractions were also closed on Sundays. In fact, those businesses are still closed on Sundays. 

It was sometime during the late 70s when businesses decided that in order to be competitive, they needed to be open on Sundays. As a result, that sacred day of rest began to disappear.

Who knew such a simple decision would contribute to an overworked and overstressed population and lead us down the path to our “get ‘er done” mentality? Once it became okay to shop on Sundays, it became okay to do other stuff on Sundays, too.

Still need to do laundry? Catch up on Sunday!

Backlogged at the office? Sunday is your day to get ahead!  

Need to clean out the basement? Why not Sunday? 

When I was an event producer, a colleague shared the story of how she had been so overwhelmed with all the details of multiple events she was planning that she had to work Sundays to catch up. But on one particular Sunday, she woke up depressed and couldn’t function. She was burnt out. 

Smart woman that she is, she confided in a veteran planner. He urged her to take the day off, even though she couldn’t fathom doing such a thing. Take a day off? That would put her even further behind.

But she did it. She got outside. She went to the movies. She ate out. She watched TV and read some magazines.

She took a day of rest. 

The next day, she was full of energy and got that work done. She was more focused and even had new ideas.

All because she had a day of rest. 

Maybe the Amish and the Mennonites are on to something. 

Do you take a day of rest each week?  You don’t have to be religious to take it and it doesn’t have to be on a Sunday. Any day will do.

Just declare a day each week that is your day of rest and do nothing:

  • no shopping
  • no cooking
  • no cleaning
  • no laundry
  • no work for your job
  • no volunteer work
  • heck, no driving if you can swing it

And while you’re at it, unplug, too:

  • No social media
  • No texting (only emergencies!)
  • No internet
  • Heck, how about no TV?

Instead, why don’t you:

  • Take a long walk – even if it is raining or snowing
  • Read a book or a magazine or the newspaper
  • Have a quality conversation with your partner, kid, parent, friend or neighbor
  • Nap
  • Journal
  • Just let the day unfold naturally without having any plans

Do this every week.

Schedule it. If you think you might forget, type or write it in your calendar. And then do it. 

Do nothing. 

Let me know how it goes.

Lori Hill

Lori Hill

Lori Hill is a plant eater, trash picker upper, climate activist, wife, and mom to 2 human boys, 2 cat boys, and 1 dog boy. On a mission to do all she can to take better care of the planet, Lori created Sister Eden Media, a green lifestyle company, to inspire others to give a damn and live more gently on Earth. She shares tips on her YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and also frequently appears on television.
Lori Hill


  1. I love your thoughtful discussion of a “sabbath” day. And, Yes, the Blue Laws were part and parcel of my childhood. The local drug stores would takes turns being open from 1:00 to 4:00 on Sundays.
    I do recall, though, that my Mom was always busy. She prepared three meals and did all the many things moms do. I doubt she really had a true “sabbath” day.
    As I get older and older (seemingly by the minute) I find that my true “rest” moments come in my Yoga class and when I am totally quiet in a cozy place.
    I often tell my dear husband that the so-called “day-of-rest” was the clever way men had of letting women do all the chores. Eggs had to be gathered, cows milked,etc. Since Mom was raised on a farm/ranch in Missouri, work was constant.
    I applaud your beautiful thoughts on a time of quiet and rest. Even if only for a short time. It is a true blessing. As are you.

  2. Lori,

    Your short essay resonates with me and touches several memories.

    A day of rest–the Sabbath–was traditionally a time to connect with things larger than one’s self: God, yes, but also community and nature. I remember visiting West Germany in the 1980s and learning that those families I saw taking a long stroll in the city park did the same long stroll every Sunday. Their Sunday walk in the park combined light exercise, time with family, being outdoors, and exchanging words with neighbors. It seemed delightful–yet so unfamiliar to me.

    I also remember, as a child around 1970, the very bizarre behavior of a friend’s mother. Instead of an elaborate “Sunday dinner,” she pronounced that her kitchen closed at 12 noon on Sunday: every member of the family, including my friend, prepared their own sandwich for dinner. What I realize now, decades later, is that this gave my friend’s mother an afternoon and evening to herself. The blue laws were in effect–I don’t think she went anywhere–but she had space to read or nap or sew or think. Space to rest and rejuvenate.

    And, finally, in Allegra Goodman’s novel, Kaaterskill Falls, she describes the daily responsibilities of a devout Jewish woman with six (or seven or eight) children. The amount of cooking, laundry, cleaning and baby care is incredible. But the woman manages this workload, according to the novel, because she is able to completely take a break from it all–able to rest–on the Sabbath.

    Thank you for your reflections on this long tradition!

    1. Author

      Liz –
      thanks so much for sharing these memories and observations! I love it! And I love the story about the mom who shut down the kitchen on Sundays! What a great idea! We often find ourselves eating out/ordering in Sunday dinner because we are busy resting and have no desire whatsoever to prepare a meal!

      Thanks for reading!

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