how to find rest and take a Sabbath as a busy woman
In case you didn’t know this, I’m kind of a perfectionistic workaholic (bad combination), and I tend to stress. A lot.
When there is something on my to-do list, I will not rest until it’s done or I have neatly scheduled it into my day at a later time. If it doesn’t get done, it takes up valuable brain space, and I will not be able to stop thinking about it. I know, it’s a terrible misfortune, but it is also a gift because I am motivated to get stuff done, and guess what? I get it done.
However, a few months ago, I realized that my hardworking attitude was getting in the way of my peace and rest. I was anxious all the time, and I had no idea why. I woke up reeling, and I went to bed fretting.
I took this matter to God, and He responded with this verse:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV)
God whispered to me that there is a time for me to work hard, but there is also a time to rest hard.
There is a time to work, and there is a time to rest. Both are equally important for us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
If we are to be everything God created us to be and do everything God created us to do, we must work hard and rest hard. We must make rest a priority just as much as we make work a priority.
After this nudge from God, I took this to heart and set up boundaries in my life around work and everything else that did not give me peace (such as social media).
Over the course of a few months, I prayed and started experimenting with different boundaries that I could set in place to give me that much-needed rest.
My way of taking a Sabbath is not a conventional one. I take it to mean that I am carving out time in my schedule to rest, no matter what day or what time it is. Because of our covenant relationship with Jesus, we no longer follow Old Testament law, at least not legalistically. Therefore, we are not forced to take a Sabbath at face-value (making it a sin to work on Sundays) like the Pharisees did (Matthew 12:1-13); rather, we are called to take the meaning of a Sabbath and apply it to our lives.
Now, before I tell you my way of having a Sabbath, I feel obligated to tell you this first: you will be different from me. What works for me may not work for you, and you need to take the responsibility to find what works for you, what gives you rest, and what allows you to get fueled so you can fulfill God’s plan for you.
Understood? Great, let’s move on.
Don't work on Sundays
Well, of course I had to start with the most obvious one.
So you’re probably thinking, “Keela, you just said that we’re not required to take a Sabbath on Sundays.”
You’re right! We’re not.
But this works for me because it gives me one day where I don’t have to worry about my to-do list. You see, if I allow myself to work on Sundays, I will work the entire day and ignore what really matters: worshiping God and spending time with family.
It gives me a day to read or watch TV or play outside or do something that I enjoy.
I’ve also found that since I’m committed to not working on Sundays, I tend to work harder and get more done during the week so that I don’t feel anxious when Sunday rolls around and there are things that I didn’t get done. Plus, God has honored my commitment to rest and has provided me with the means to get stuff done so that I can fully rest.
When you obey Him, He provides for all your needs. When you commit to rest, He helps you have the time.
Even so, this is not a rule but a guideline. I never want my relationship with God to become legalistic, so I will work on Sundays if I absolutely have to. I just try to keep it to a minimum and do it quickly so that I have the rest of the day to rest. And that’s totally okay.
I HIGHLY recommend a full day of rest because I have seen how much it has impacted my life and the lives of others who have done this.
But it doesn’t have to be a Sunday. Choose whatever day works for you, and commit to it. That specific day can even change with your schedule. For instance, maybe you have a business meeting Monday morning and need Sunday to prepare, so you can make your rest day Tuesday. Do what works for you.
The point isn’t to make a rule. The point is that you’re getting the rest you need and connecting with God so that you can be all that He created you to be and do all that He created you to do.
block social media on sundays
Social media is one of those things that sucks the time out of your life, twists you in a ball of comparison, and is just plain toxic sometimes. At least, for me it is.
So I made it a personal rule to not get on social media on Sundays. This has been such a good thing for me and has really given me freedom and rest on Sundays. I spend more time with my family, doing the things that I love, rather than looking at what others love.
It’s really simple to do this, and I highly recommend you do.
If you have an iPhone:
Go to your Settings > Screen Time > App Limits > Add Limit > Social Networking > Set a time on Sundays (I set mine for one minute)
Or you can just set an alarm on your phone to remind you every Sunday to block your social media apps. Whatever works for you.
If you want to keep access to one social media app (I keep Pinterest allowed because I sometimes cook or draw on Sundays, and I don’t feel like Pinterest takes away from my rest), under Screen Time, go to Always Allowed, and choose whichever platform you want always open. Easy-peasy.
I picked social media because it tends to make me anxious and restless. But if it doesn’t do that to you, then don’t pick social media to kick out. Pick something that makes you feel anxious. That could be ANYTHING, including cleaning, driving, texting, whatever it may be. Pay attention to what you need.
seek rest every morning
This is, by far, the most important one for me. My daily quiet time is the most significant and beneficial part of my day. It renews me, gives me rest, and gives me the strength I need to get through each day.
I talk in this post about how I spend time praying, reading and studying my Bible, and stewarding my health each morning.
This is so so so crucial for every believer to do, whether it’s in the morning, on your lunch break, or at night.
You NEED to be in the Word. You NEED to be seeking God. You NEED to be going to war through prayer.
I have seen this to be true in my own life, and I urge you to make time with God a priority. Schedule it into your day. Sacrifice all else if just to sit at the King’s feet for a few minutes. Nothing else could ever hold a candle to that.
shut off all work at 8 pm every night
Everything that feels like work to me, even chores, is done by 8 pm so that I can relax by reading a book or watching TV. I also block social media after 8 just to keep my mental headspace safe from the chaos of the world.
Of course, this is one of those things that is just a guideline. Sometimes things happen, and I have to work passed 8, but I really try not to. In fact, I only do it if I absolutely have to.
Setting this small boundary has brought a lot of freedom in my life because it allows me time to just unwind. It’s scheduled into my day, and I can count on it. Plus, oddly enough, it makes me work harder and get more done. When I know that I will be getting a break later, I will push harder to get more done in the little time that I have. It’s a win-win.
when rushed and reeling, take 5 minutes to just surrender & pray
You ever have those days when you just feel anxious about going to work or school or wherever you’re going? You might even be a little grumpy.
Well, I’ve been training myself to start noticing when I’m like that, calling it out, and confronting it before it gets out of hand. One way that I’ve been doing that is by just taking a couple minutes to take a deep breath, pray, and trust God.
It might look like this:
I’ve got 53982 things to do when I get to school, 2 papers to write, a meeting to lead, and 4 tests. I’m stressed, and I can’t stop thinking about how much I have to do and how in the world I’ll ever get it done. I’ll notice that I’m anxious, and before I get out of my car to head to school, I’ll pause for a couple minutes and pray over everything that I have to do. I’ll remind myself that God is sovereign and that He is with me. And I’ll surrender my day to Him. Instant peace.
no work, social media, or email in the morning until I get to my workplace
This one has been a big one for me and a really hard one to follow, to be honest.
I will not look at Instagram until I’ve had my time with Jesus.
I will not look at emails until I’m away from my home environment.
I will not work in the morning until I am in my workplace.
The only exception is that I write blog posts (like this one!) in the morning while I eat breakfast, but I don’t consider this work (most days) because I enjoy it so much.
schedule priorities first, including rest time, and only add more if i am confident that i can handle it
This one is just a life skill, in general.
Make your priorities a priority.
For me, that means literally scheduling into my planner time with God, time to read, time to spend with family, time to write, time to work, time to do chores, buffer time in case something comes up, and time to rest.
If I am not 100% certain that I have plenty of time, energy, and strength to do a project well WHILE having plenty of time for my other responsibilities and priorities, I WILL SAY NO.
Don’t be afraid to say no. God will never want you to do anything that makes you abandon your other responsibilities and priorities.
Say no. Protect your rest time. Protect your priorities.
No work during lunch or dinner
This one’s pretty flexible, but generally I shut off all work while I eat so that I can (1) pay attention to what I eat, enjoy it, and glorify God for that gift and (2) steward my relationships.
If I have learned one thing this year, it’s this:
Discipline brings freedom.
Wise boundaries protect you.
Rhythms create wellbeing.
Taking a Sabbath doesn’t have to be a religious, complicated, legalistic thing. It’s something that is crucial for your success.
If you work to the bone and never pause to rest, you will burn out. Quick.
But if you take the time to rest, which is what God wants you to do, you will have what it takes to succeed.
Even God rested, and if we are made in His image, shouldn’t we do the same?
Friend, if you’re tired and anxious, I dare you to put some boundaries up in your life. Rest. Really, it’s okay. It will bring so much freedom in your life and make your days a little brighter. Ask God to show you how He wants you to rest, and commit to obeying.
If you’re not spending time alone with God daily, I suggest you do that above all else. It is the single most important thing you could ever do with your life.
GET SOME REST, FRIEND!