Prepent Day 17: How to Handle Stress

Tuesday 9/20/16

Elul 17 5776


Dear Stress,

Today I met with a couple about to get married. In the middle of their busy professional lives, adding wedding planning is simply one more project that is driving them beyond the norm of urban urgency - they are really really stressed out. The guy just burst out crying in the middle of the cafe. She handled it well but had this look of horror, briefly, on her face… How are we supposed to handle all this stress in our ever so much busier lives?? And I know they are not the only ones wondering. I too, these high and holy days of lots of prep for all the ritual and year ahead, plus family concerns, and moths, and simple daily stuff not to mention the attempt to help out with the elections - I’m sitting here right now, trying to meet deadlines and trying to remember how to pause and breath.

Dear stress - sorry for letting you take over. I know you are here as a built-in system for enhancing productivity and action in the face of danger or crisis. It sure helps but the price tag is too onerous once this becomes chronic, which it now so often does. I thank you for your helpful presence but I want to better balance our roles and figure out how to dance together - and I - the calmer part of me - will get to lead. (Don’t worry - I’m sure you’ll still get your way sometimes, but not, I hope and plan, as often.)

On this 17th day of the journey to more healthy and reflective living I am pausing to consider how much stress there is in my life and what I can do about it. Stop complaining and blaming others for whatever going on is a good start. Taking ownership of the situation and not stressing out about stress is a great next move. Then there’s many other tips like breathing, meditation, singing your favorite song, or punching something.

I want the year ahead to be more bliss and balance, less stress and hassle, and I know a lot of it is up to me. What daily do or don’t can each of take on today to help us destress for ourselves and others?

(me, starting with NOT stressing about getting this to you, dear fellow prepent travelers, and trusting that it will be ok and pausing to sing the one line from Yentel that somehow always calms me and let’s those who know that I am pressure-cooking:“Papa, can you hear me?..”)

Love,

Amichai


PREPENT: Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie’s annual journey to the new year, with 40 ways in 40 days to reflect, refocus, recharge and restart life. This year features daily love letters inspired by Lab/Shul’s theme for the High Holy Days, “וְאָהַבְתָּ re:love.”

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