What Do You Do to Relax and Unwind?

It's easy to get the impression that you are always working hard. What do you do to relax and unwind?

I think unwind is a right way to say it, because souls and minds can screw down really tight. You can run on adrenaline for a long time and be at such a fever pitch that it becomes destructive. It'll give you heart disease and so on.

So it's a good question, and I think everybody needs to do it. I think that's what the Sabbath principle is in the Bible. God forbade this agrarian people from working who thought that their livelihood depended on working seven days a week. What a thrilling thing to be told not to work, right? "You cannot work, you have to relax today." So I think the principle is there in the Sabbath principle.

For me personally I try to take Mondays off. It used to be Thursdays for years and years. Now it's Mondays. And by "off" I mean that I don't set the alarm. So that's an unwinding for me, to be able to sleep in and not have that alarm go off and say, "Get up and do." Just let it go and sleep as much as you need. So that's one thing that a day off means.

A second thing is that I run. I find that jogging three days a week is really important psychologically and physically in probably more ways than I know. Last Monday, two days ago, it was absolutely gorgeous, about 43 degrees. And I put on sweats and a long sleeve shirt, took my dog, and I just hit the road. And it was gorgeous. The leaves are turning. I felt so good when I came back after 30 minutes, I ran around the block again. The effect that has on me is very unwinding.

Third, after my shower, I take my Bible. And instead of going to my corner I go to the couch. And I get a cup of tea or whatever. And I just have my Bible and no deadlines. I've got until noon (when Noël and I go out), and I can read my Bible all morning. I'll put around me some other books, and I've got my little tablet where I love to take notes.

That's almost the same as what I usually do, but it feels very different to me. I'm on the couch, I've got no deadlines, and I'm just saying, "Talk to me, God."

And then at noon, Noël and I go out. This feels really good to me. I love going out with my wife on my day off. Last Monday we went to Old Country Buffet.

And let me tell you what you can get at Old Country Buffet. There are really interesting people at Old Country Buffet. They're mostly old, and a lot of people that wouldn't go to more expensive restaurants. But you can do salad for $3.99 from 1-3pm, and it includes the taco bar. $3.99! It's incredible! And I'm 63, so I can get a break. $5.99 and I can eat anything I want there. Noël likes it because she likes the salad.

So anyway, that's unwinding. And then in the afternoon it's work around the house.

That's the gist of it. Running, sleeping longer... and we'll play Scrabble sometimes, or just go out and do stuff.

If I kept talking more would come to my mind. It's important. I do live under a lot of pressure—a lot of it is self imposed, and a lot of it is imposed by the reality that I lead a larger church.

But I don't begrudge that. I think deadlines and pressure are the most productive things in the world. If you try to run away from stress, run away from pressure, run away from deadlines, you'll probably be a relaxed do-nothing.