Let’s pick that as our ‘word of the year 2018,’ shall we? My social media feeds are full of people setting intentions for the New Year, many opting for the practice of choosing one word on which to focus their goals. I’m not generally one to follow this trend, but if I were, my 2018 word would be rest. Making time to focus on ourselves and those around us should be a year-long goal, not relegated to an ‘extra’ day off over the Christmas holidays.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the hustle and bustle of the retail machine that seemed to start the week before American Thanksgiving with Pre-Black Friday Sales and hasn’t stopped until this week’s Boxing Day Blowouts. I love a great deal, but this month-long bombardment of sale flyers and online advertisements has become tiresome. Perhaps this is part of the reason local shoppers told a reporter the Boxing Day experience “isn’t what it used to be.” I’m worried that the perception that local Boxing Day sales are losing their allure will start a movement to have Maritime stores open on December 26. I think we need to stand our ground and proudly celebrate our Day of Rest – and expand that philosophy throughout our lives.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying “He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.” Resting can be seen as a sign of luxury, or moreso one of laziness in our instant-gratification culture, but we here on the East Coast are in the arguably enviable position of still having a mandated Day of Rest on December 26.
New Brunswick’s Employment Standards Act recognizes 10 days of rest, seven of which are statutory holidays (New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, New Brunswick Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.) The official documents state that it is “necessary to provide for days of rest from work, and it is desirable to provide, as much as is practicable, that such days of rest be uniform.”
Research shows that employees who do not get a rest from work negatively impact a company’s productivity. Those employees’ health suffers from being overworked, leading to increased costs to our health care system. Family relationships can become strained and deteriorate. A cycle of unhappiness begins to permeate the community. Our society becomes unbalanced and unhealthy.
Franklin, among many other great thinkers, knew the value in taking time to step away from the ‘to do’ list to actually get things done. Athletes understand that training schedules must include mandated rest times for their bodies to reach optimal performance. More and more, people are realizing that the constant connectivity that technology has brought to our lives is taking away our traditional rest times – and while it is up to each of us to reclaim those moments in our daily routines, we can collectively support each other by holding up our mandated Days of Rest as an example the rest of the country can look to for inspiration.
Let’s claim this Day of Rest culture and proudly embrace it as forward thinking, rather than shun it as an outdated holdover from a different time. I don’t think we need to return to a ban on Sunday shopping, but let’s not lose our 10 days, several of which set us apart from the rest of the country. Let’s remind each other all the reasons it is important to step away from our daily routine and focus on ourselves and our families. Let’s make 2018 the year we all agree that REST is a four-letter-word we all want to hear repeated.