Every Sunday in Spain it amazes me and warms my heart to see families and friends gather inside or out, enjoying each other’s company, and actually sitting down to have a meal together. This week I share my experience of the European notion “Switch off Sundays” and how this S.O.S. has been life-changing for me, my family and can be for you too.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

- John Lubboc

I must admit as an American, born and bred, I’m used to the convenience of shops open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. And so it took some definite getting used to shops closed on Sundays. Being married to a French man, I had my first experiences when I’d frequent Paris and I’d immediately think (and no problem saying!) “How can you possibly live like this?” and “What if you need something one o’clock in the morning?” Only to my surprise, moving to Spain years later, I’d get the full fledge experience of “Switch off Sundays”. After a few months I began to truly appreciate this sacred day. How wonderful it was to completely “switch off” from having to consume and simply devote the day to cultural or familial activities. Sure pharmacies, restaurants and some smaller markets are still open, but the main shops are all closed. Need to buy something for yourself or someone else? Simply plan ahead or buy it the next day. The world will keep spinning and you won’t lose sleep over it–really it does, and you won’t!

So where did the argument in favor of regulating shop opening hours originate from? Usually from trade unions and industry federations, as well as socialist and Christian democratic parties. In some religions, the day of the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, said to be the day God rested after six days of creation. But even if you’re not religious, there’s a lot we can learn from each other and other cultures in this world.

As an international coach, yoga teacher, writer, speaker and American expat mother living across two continents for 10 years, I truly believe Europeans (participating) are on to something here and that unless we change our behavior our society will suffer–mentally and emotionally. We need to disconnect to reconnect. We need to create space to give ourselves space. And that can only come by minimizing or removing completely the distractions. Even if only for one day, that one day of conscious connection can create waves of conscious living for the rest of the week and perhaps the rest of your life.

One day of no shopping may seem like a stretch and to some, especially for Americans, it is. Believe me, I know, and I can fully appreciate a sale and discount like many. There’s a lot of them in the U.S. as you’re literally bombarded with consuming 24/7. But when the time comes when roles reverse as we take care of our parents, our children grow up and leave us with an empty-nest or your friend moves on or passes on – What will you remember? Will you remember the day you spent with your father at the beach, the sound of your child laughing as you play, or the day you spent shopping for that sweater, that appliance or other commodity?

If you live in a city that doesn’t offer some S.O.S., Switch off Sundays, not to worry. Here are my top four tips on how you, too, can enjoy a day of rest and switch off wherever you may be:

1. Go Offline
So often our week is spent consuming content and communing with others from afar. Concentrate on your family and friends near you by being fully present, in-person and full contact.

2. Turn off the TV
With today’s recording technology it’s impossible to miss a beat. If you must, watch that episode or flick another day and spend that time off the couch doing something more engaging like a walk in the park or visiting with a friend.

3. Catnap
Use this day for some much needed and well-deserved sleep so you can fully rest and detox. Your mind and body will thank you for it as you’ll be more ready and energized for the week ahead.

4. Shop later
Schedule your shopping a week ahead. This not only will help organize your to-do list and stay on track but also will help you stay on budget–which is always good! Organizing your purchases can greatly help minimize the need of impulse shopping.

Leslie Keeler Saglio

Contributor, SERENE Social


About Leslie

After nine incredible years in London, Leslie Keeler Saglio, a Los Angeles native, moved to Barcelona with her French husband and two young children. Her mission is to bring beauty to the world, by inspiring and encouraging others to live a more meaningful life, from the inside out. As a Wellness & Life Coach, Yoga Teacher, Writer, Speaker, Energy Healer and Wellicious Ambassador she guides people to find peace and infuse balance in our big, busy and beautiful world. In 2014 from a practice of gratitude and friendship, Leslie brought SERENE across the pond, managing their international launch and presence as their London Lead. To learn more about Leslie’s work, visit lesliesaglio.com

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