For our first two years in Charleston, Mike worked full time while he finished his PhD in his “free” time. We rearranged our household priorities, valuing productivity above almost everything else.
While I didn’t have the same pressures that Mike did, I stepped up to absorb any responsibilities not related to Mike’s work. I didn’t need to spend as many hours working as Mike did, but our household culture became very work focused.
I’ve always been around people who are smarter and faster, but I take pride in my ability to discipline myself and work hard. I feel good about myself when I’m working.
During the PhD season, I naturally fell into a rhythm of working whenever Mike did…which was always. Watching a show or taking a nap while he worked felt indulgent, even though he encouraged me to rest.
Most of the time, I didn’t resent the hours he worked at night and on the weekends; I relished the chance to work on my own projects. I fleshed out the concept for this blog, set up the infrastructure and published during those hours.
As the months dragged on, Mike grew more exhausted, wearied to the bone. He often expressed a desire to keep a “sabbath” once he finished – a true day of rest out of every week.
I voiced approval, but internally didn’t share his desire for a day of rest, and didn’t really believe it possible. If I’m really to do no work at all, when will I do my laundry, for example?
It’s been eight months (to the day!) since Mike finished his PhD, and we rarely take an entire day of rest. Don’t get me wrong. We relax, we socialize, we sleep later on the weekends. We aren’t workaholic maniacs.
But one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday morning is working on blog stuff at a coffee shop. That’s work, in a sense, but it’s also relaxing.
What is work, and what is rest, anyway?
If I work on something that gives me energy, isn’t that a version of rest? If I expend energy toward an outcome but feel more energized afterwards, is that work or is it rest? Is it somehow both?
Hours in front of a television or sitting on the couch all day sound like rest, but nothing drains my energy more.
When I think about the desire to rest from work, I think of work that is burdensome and exhausting. Some types of work are restorative and rejuvenating, not draining. Even hard work done with a servant’s heart can be energizing.
Rest doesn’t just mean turning my brain on autopilot and sleeping. Rest isn’t lethargy. Rest is taking a break from those things that drain and exhaust my energy, and spending time doing the things that restore and rejuvenate.
For me, that looks like more of this:
- One on one time with Mike
- Time with friends
- Eating out
- Reading for fun or education (both are rejuvenating for me)
- Big picture planning
- Extra sleep
…and less of this:
- Social media
- Involved cooking
- Overly scheduled days
What does your day of rest look like?