Screen-Free Sabbath

“Screen-Free Sabbath” is part of the student life division’s Sustain YOU! initiative, which focuses on care of self and prioritizing and balancing life. This student-produced video on the topic debuted in a 2012 university chapel. At the core of this adventure is the principle of Sabbath, a period of rest and renewal.

We invite students, faculty and staff to participate as individuals or groups and free yourself from screens… items that can block you from Sabbath, yourself, your relationships and your spirituality. Join in our “electronic fasting” and share your reflections on our mini-blog.

How to participate in the screen-free Sabbath

“Screen-free Sabbaths have allowed me to feel physically healthier, more productive and successful academically, and created space that has helped me grow in my spiritual life. I am convinced that an overabundance of technology in a person’s life leads to impatience, irritability, stress, anxiety, a lack of productivity, and doesn’t allow for the solitude that is essential to a spiritual relationship with God. "
-Tim Heishman ’12

“Taking space away from the clamoring voices of everyday life enables us to listen to God. Even spending an hour or two away from technology and other demands can be incredibly beneficial. Whether it be an entire day away from all technology or simply part of an afternoon, I challenge you to find ways to make your Sabbath a true day of rest and allowing yourself to feel God’s peace.”
-Meg Smeltzer ’13

Screen: movable or fixed device, usually consisting of a covered frame, that provides shelter, serves as a partition, etc.

Free: enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person, pertaining to or reserved for those who enjoy personal freedom

Sabbath: time of rest and religious observance, any special day of prayer or rest, a period of rest and renewal.

At the core of our screen-free adventure is the principle of Sabbath. All students, faculty and staff are invited to participate as individuals or groups and free themselves from items that can block you from Sabbath, yourself, your relationships and your spirituality: screens.

1. Prepare

  • Choose a challenge that you can really try for a few weeks–there are many ways to take Sabbath for rest and renewal.
  • Select the time for practicing screen-free Sabbath (Friday evening, Saturday evening through Sunday evening, Sunday afternoon or all day Sunday)
  • Take time to be intentional about why you are trying this and how you want to spend your time – reflect on what this means to you and pay attention along the way to how it feels, how you experience the renewal.
  • Perhaps there is a group of friends or people in your dorm you can reach out to and create a group challenge and meet to talk about group reflections or activities
  • Consider this as your Lenten journey. Time your screen-free Sabbaths during Lent as a time for preparation and renewal with a screen-free fast. Then reflect to see if after Lent you wish to continue on with this as a lifestyle change for ongoing renewal.
  • Remember that this is about gaining Sabbath, creating space for retreat and renewal for yourself and increasing your sense of well-being. No matter how you prepare or what challenge you choose, make that your goal.

2. Plan what you will do in your screen-free time

  • Meditate, focus, breathe into the quiet and get back in touch with you
  • Spend time in prayer to nurture your relationship with God
  • Visit with friends – take a walk, get coffee, reconnect
  • Read a book for pleasure or do a self-guided book study
  • Start a gratitude journal
  • Put your cell phones away (far away) for mealtime
  • Go outside, explore and enjoy nature!
  • Take a one day retreat for yourself or in a small group
  • Unhook from all your responsibilities and play
  • Start a new hobby
  • Paint, color, draw, make something with clay
  • Try a new recipe and invite friends in to sample it

3. Choose your challenge

Consider all the activities with screens: TV/movies, texting, social networking, video games, computers, cell phone.

Challenge one: Choose one activity from which to be screen-free for some or all of the Sabbath day. The amount of time is less important than what you do during that time and how you reflect on the screen-free impact!

Challenge two: Choose two activities

Challenge three: Choose three activities

Challenge four: All entertainment screens

Challenge five: All screens!

4. BLOG about it!

Reflect on what you are learning about yourself, your relationships, your relationship with God. Read how others have experienced screen-free Sabbath.