A Digital Sabbath is Essential for Your Wellbeing

February 19, 2020
Article by OM Times

We all need to schedule a “Digital Sabbath:” one day a week free from technology that we can spend reconnecting with our family and our friends.

Every Entrepreneur Needs a Digital Sabbath



Recently, I interviewed entrepreneur and author, Nir Eyal for my Ruthless Compassion podcast. He talked about how technology is an absolute necessity but that like anything else we find helpful and enjoyable, we can find ourselves out of balance when using it.

We don’t even realize how many hours a day we spend, hooked up to our technology. Whether it’s looking at our phones, working on the computer or listening to music or podcasts, we’re almost never tech-free. I’m constantly seeing couples out on a date, both of whom are spending most of their time looking at their phones.

For entrepreneurs, it’s especially difficult because technology is the medium to grow and maintain our businesses. I know that I’m using so much more technology to run my Ruthless Compassion Institute than I ever would have imagined in the past.

However, when we get too caught up in technology we can lose sight of the human factor. We can get sucked down the rabbit hole of work and forget that we have friends, a family, and loved ones who care about us and need our time and energy. When we’re out of balance with our technology, our personal relationships can suffer.


The “Digital Sabbath”

Nir has a solution. He proposes that we take a “digital Sabbath;” one day a week free from technology that we can spend reconnecting with our family and our friends. We can pull our eyes away from the seductive glow of our screens and focus instead on nurturing our personal relationships.

Every year in mid-February, we enjoy Family Day in Ontario and ideally, it’s a day dedicated to spending time with our loved ones. Unfortunately, I know of many people who’ll be spending the day at their keyboards, catching up on work.

It’s especially hard for working parents who are entrepreneurs. For them, every day is a potential workday. I’ve certainly discovered that since I started working from home, I don’t have any set days off. I seem to work most days of the week; even when I’m on vacation.


Entrepreneurs and Work-Life Balance

And unfortunately, when people know that I’m an entrepreneur, they don’t tend to respect the typical nine-to-five schedule that so many working people observe. I get texts, emails and phone calls at any time of the day and night and often on the weekends. I’m sure that I’m not alone in this.

I’m certainly not complaining because like most entrepreneurs, I love what I do and it doesn’t really feel like work, most of the time. In fact, I’m partly to blame, because I choose to respond to those calls and texts and emails, even when they come in at 11:30 at night.

For an entrepreneur with a young family, it can be especially difficult to balance work-life and family life. How do you know whether the next 11:30 pm text might turn out to be your big break? Still, if you never turn away from your technology, your family might start turning away from you. Nir Eyal experienced a crisis in his marriage brought on by being overly distracted by his work.

He, fortunately, averted the crisis by making the choice to carve out more family time and turn off his technology, one day every week. I think that he’s on to something.

Lately, I’ve been noticing that even with the best of intentions, as well as looming deadlines, I’ve needed to take at least one day off work each week. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe it’s because my intuition knows something that my head hasn’t yet caught on to. Either way, I’ve been taking my “digital Sabbath” to rest, recharge, and reconnect with loved ones. I highly recommend it.


Family Day vs. Business as Usual

If you live in Ontario, you might want to think about how you spent your Family Day this year. Did you take time to be with your loved ones, or was it “business as usual?” Was your spouse outside tobogganing with the kids while you were indoors, staring at a screen? Maybe it’s time to take Nir’s suggestion of a digital Sabbath more seriously.

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It’s great to be ambitious and to work at becoming more successful, but at what expense? For Nir Eyal, it was almost at the expense of losing his family. For many of us entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get sucked into our technology and keep on working until the consequences start piling up.


Observing the Sabbath?

Many religious people have observed the Sabbath for thousands of years, but as people have become more secular, the idea of one day of rest has fallen to the wayside. Whether or not you’re religious, you can still observe the Sabbath. You can have a digital Sabbath.

Whatever you did this year on Family Day, consider the option of making one day a week your own Family Day moving forward. Unplug your technology and connect with the people you love. Your business will most likely benefit from your relaxed and refreshed mind, and the return-on-investment in terms of a happy, connected family will be priceless.

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About the Author

Marcia Sirota MD FRCP(C) is a board-certified psychiatrist, that does not ascribe to any one theoretical school. Rather, she has integrated her education and life experiences into a unique approach to the practice of psychotherapy. She considers herself a realist with a healthy measure of optimism. Sign up here for her free monthly wellness newsletter.  Listen here to her latest podcast.  mariasirotamd.com

Dr. Marcia Sirota is a Toronto-based board certified psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of trauma and addiction, as well as founder of the Ruthless Compassion Institute, whose mandate is to promote the philosophy of Ruthless Compassion and in so doing, improve the lives of people, everywhere.

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