Students struggle to find time for sabbath

Burning the midnight oil while studying, getting homework done and working late is common among college students. During the day, classes, work and extracurriculars fill each hour. Rest is often not a priority. Taking a sabbath, a day absent from work, is almost unheard of.

Freshman Annie Conners defined sabbath as “a day of rest.” 

When asked if she takes one during her busy week as a part of the Calvin women’s swim and dive team, Conners said, “Not recently. I used to when I was in high school and at home. My homework just piles up — I feel like I have too much to do.”

Student Senate promoted a “Pause Week” March 22 – 26, a week of several events for students to participate in and a time when professors were to ease classes, to help ease the elimination of spring break this semester. Conners had no idea “Pause Week” even occurred. 

“Last semester I wasn’t super good at [taking breaks], but this semester I’m going to try to make a point of making time for myself,” Conners said.

Dr. Paul Moes, professor of psychology, presented data from research that suggests that our bodies respond best to a weekly cycle that includes regular rest.

Whatever the reason for this response, there does appear to be physical, intellectual and emotional benefits of ‘refreshing’ on a weekly basis,” said Moes in an email to Chimes.

Moes grew up in a household that strictly practiced the sabbath. Now, he is more relaxed with what he can and cannot do on the sabbath; however, the intention of rest is still there.

“While my strict adherence to such rules has diminished greatly, I do value the time to not only break away from daily activities, but to break away from the concerns of this present life,” said Moes.

Moes’s Sunday is distinct from the rest of the week because of those intentions, but he makes a point to have breaks throughout the workweek as well. 

“I also try to set aside some time for genuine meditation, reflection or devotion time – as I do during the week but especially on that day,” said Moes.

Moes considers worship and his focus on God to be important parts of sabbath.

“I also feel spiritually refreshed after experiencing worship and some time of reflection,” Moes said. “This means that I feel a deeper connection to others and to my God.”

Moes added that not everyone can take a rest day on Sunday. Sabbaths can occur throughout the week. 

“As long as we can set aside time for restoring our relationship with God and with others, then the specific time is not the greatest issue,” said Moes.

Finding time to rest is difficult, and making it into a healthy habit is even harder. According to psychologists and Moes, it takes six weeks to three months to develop a strong habit. This requires discipline, but the rest improves productivity, attitude and overall health.

“There is nothing more satisfying than to work very hard to complete a task,” said Moes, “and then allow yourself a much deserved rest in between.”