The Non-Religious Ways Shabbat Can Change Your Life

Oren Cohen

Let’s talk about our weekends.

Photo: Unsplash

Did you know Keeping Shabbat (even non-religiously) can change your life?

I keep Shabbat. Every week, from Friday evening to Saturday evening, I’m disconnecting from all forms of digital life.

Many people ask me why I do it. When I explain doing this for religious reasons, they almost immediately lose interest.

But the thing is — there are plenty of reasons to keep Shabbat in a non-religious way and still benefit from it. You don’t have to put the religion stamp on it to enjoy it.

In this article, I want to explore some of the benefits of keeping Shabbat. But before we do, let’s understand how to do it, in a nutshell.

How To Keep Shabbat?

This list is the basic idea of keeping Shabbat:

  1. In Israel, on Friday evening after the sun had set, Shabbat starts. Count 25 hours from when the sun had set.
  2. The first and foremost rule is to disconnect. Close your phone, close your computer. Close your TV. There are many restrictions in the religious version, but we’re not here for Judaism training. We’re here to enjoy the idea of Shabbat.
  3. Once the 25 hours are over, you can return to your regular life schedule.
clear your head, actively rest, and not think about your job or your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter activities.

Those are the necessary steps. Now, in Judaism and Israel, the Shabbat is celebrated, of course, on Saturday. Still, if you’re not Jewish and live anywhere else, that rest day is Sunday for most countries in Europe and the USA. So those 25 hours of silence can happen from Saturday night to Sunday night — You choose. It’s probably better to select the accepted weekly rest day where you live for this practice.

Let’s jump in and learn some benefits of keeping Shabbat.

Recharging is the obvious

Recharging your energies is probably the most apparent benefit. Who doesn’t want to feel rejuvenated?

But the thing is that Shabbat gives you a different kind of break. Instead of a short break you get from work, you actively decide to be offline for the duration. You decide to clear your head, actively rest, and not think about your job or Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter activities.

It’s like stepping into a world of your own each weekend — one where you don’t have to answer urgent phone calls and reply to comments on social media. You’re offline. You’ll see the messages when you finish your 25 hours of time off.

You’ll get addicted to the quiet and rest of disconnecting for a while.

Besides the religious activities I participate in, like going to the synagogue, I’ve enjoyed the quiet and the benefit of letting people know I’m not available on the weekend. I shut down my phone and want some much-needed rest that comes with understanding the week has indeed ended.

Shabbat Is A Clear End To The Week

When you live in a stressful environment or an information-saturated reality like ours, it’s easy to forget to paint precise cuts between weeks.

“Oh, that happened, um, last week? Wow, I can’t remember.”

Is this you? Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. We need definite ends between weeks to keep us sane.

When you decide to make Shabbat a part of your life and practice it regularly, you begin to look forward to it. You’ll get addicted to the quiet and rest of disconnecting for a while.

Shabbat always charges me up for the next week. When I tackle a challenge in the following week, I usually come up with a solution quickly. That week ended, and its problems simmered in my subconscious until the next week arrived, and I came back for them.

It’s your time to shine.

I started keeping Shabbat seriously and religiously in 2008. We’ve always been moderately religious in the family. No extremes. But, I began to take this more seriously after my Epilepsy disappeared after praying at The Western Wall (that’s a whole story for a different time). I had a personal motivation. Eleven years later, I now know how to separate the benefits from religion.

Invest The Weekend In Relationships And Yourself

There were a few times in my life when my grandmother was still alive that my cousin and I would come to sleep at her house for the weekend. Then, on Saturday morning after the prayer, we would walk around in different synagogues and meet new interesting people and potential dates.

The synagogue managers would often plan for a great feast after the morning prayer, and many people enjoyed the offered food and intriguing conversations.

Every time before we went out, I would insist on keeping my phone at my grandmother’s house and thoroughly enjoying the Shabbat. My cousin was less religious than I am, but that decision was not a religious one. I wanted to get to know these people, listen to them, and not have an escape route when I would inevitably feel shame.

I want to let Shabbat feel welcome when she comes for her weekly visit.

I met some incredible people but ultimately, I wasn’t coming to my grandmother enough to keep in touch with them — a decision I regret. But at least I learned how to enjoy people during the Shabbat without a phone or computer.

Some people stay home, some play monopoly, some go to a picnic. Just lose the digital aspect, and you’ll do fine. Maybe meet for a session of D&D! Something I’m looking forward to trying!

When you feel you had your fill of relationships, it’s time to invest in yourself. Maybe you should write a journal on the weekends? Perhaps you want to sit by yourself and enjoy a good nap or read a good book with hot chocolate and some cookies? Treat yourself! Get to know yourself better.

It’s your time to shine.

Invest in your surroundings

I’m the type of person to clean up my room before the weekend. I want to let Shabbat feel welcome when she comes for her weekly visit. So, I clean up my room, change sheets, wash the floor, and eliminate some trash I accumulated during the week.

This practice is something you can pick up for yourself too. Clean up your space, and you’ll clean up your mind as well.

No contract in the world will make me give up on that precious time — not even a monthly salary of a million dollars.

Research (and some more research) shows that getting rid of your clutter will improve your cognition and behavior.

Usually, during the week, I have some stuff lying around in my room, but I’m committed to making my surroundings shine when the weekend comes. I even clean windows! Yeah, physical ones!

Shabbat Kills Anxiety

I’m the type of guy to worry about stuff. My job, my relationships. All sorts of things. I don’t take my decisions based on how people will react, mind you, I’m just feeling anxious about those decisions and do them anyway.

That anxiety is gone the moment I turn off my phone and shift my focus to enjoy Shabbat. I’m in a different world now. The work will wait. Even if it can’t — it will. I’m offline. No contract in the world will make me give up on that precious time — not even a monthly salary of a million dollars.

Embrace it, enjoy it.

It’s probably going to be a world of anxiety to explain this practice to your boss. You’ve decided to stay offline during the weekend for 25 hours, just like that. If you’re a Jew, it’s easier — you can claim to become more religious, and perhaps you will, at some point, enjoy Shabbat on a more spiritual level.

If you’re not a Jew — then perhaps explain it’s a mental health practice. In a lot of aspects, it is. You become calmer and healthier when you disconnect and recharge for a while. Your work during the week will greatly benefit from this practice, and you should help your boss see that.

Above All Else — Enjoy It

No matter how you decide to bring Shabbat into your life, don’t feel threatened by disconnecting. Embrace it, enjoy it. If you’re addicted to your phone or computer, decide to take only a few hours off at the weekend instead of the full 25 hours, and increase that time off each week. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it as much as I have.

Thank you so much for reading, and sincerely, enjoy your weekend.

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I'm a geeky content creator. My content will usually be helpful articles for other content creators like me or some fun geeky articles about shows, video games, and literature. Recommend me a new fantasy book! Also, I'm working on my own fantasy story so stay tuned for that, too.

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