6 min read
Stressed out? Here’s what you need to do.
With Passover less than a week away, it's quite possible that we may be feeling... just a little stressed out, which can sometimes bring on a major case of pre-holiday blues.
Fortunately, I've been doing the Yom Tov thing for a long time and have a few recommendations for keeping your sanity...not that I guarantee that I always use them or actually maintain my own sanity. But if we have a few tools in our back pocket, we may actually remember to grasp for them when the going gets tough and we're faced with those 'breaking point' moments.
Here are five important things to do to help you combat those pre-holiday blues:
1. Get enough sleep. Hahaha! That doesn't sound very realistic when we have so much to do, and it's easy to just get lost in time and merrily cook and clean all through the night. I know, it sounds weirdly romantic...but, no. Just no.
The truth is that you will be much more effective if you just shut everything down, including yourself, and go to sleep. Now, this may take a seriously concentrated effort and a lot of self-control, but trust me, it's worth it. If your mind is racing and you're worried about all you have to do, make a neat new list for the next day, and in the morning you will not believe how much more you can accomplish than you could while running on empty and falling apart. When the day is over, it's over. Forget about it for a few hours and go to sleep.
2. Exercise. It doesn't matter if it's a 20 minute walk or a 5 mile run, just make sure you get out there and move your body. Yes we know that bending down to put a load in or vacuuming under mattresses is also exercise. But it's not a specific time that's carved out for you to meditate in the healthy movement of your body. We are all about to enter into a zone of abundant consumption of high fat and high sugar food over an extended period of time, so prime your body, get your metabolism revving, and allow the endorphins to make you a little happier.
3. Focus on gratitude. It's very easy to feel resentful when it seems you're doing everything for everyone else, all by yourself. Clearly you should allow others to help you (I personally have a huge issue allowing people to help me, and then end up complaining about doing everything myself. Ask for and accept help!) But even so, when things get overwhelming it's good to just stop and refocus. This is a good time to take a walk or a workout break, or just simply lock yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes. Then consciously think about all your blessings: your family, kids, money (or at least the credit card you don't have to deal with today), your house, and even your strength, fortitude, and talent to do it all. Thank God and then thank yourself. Tell yourself how awesome you are!
When you stop the complaining (even in your head) and reverse your thought process towards gratitude, it makes a huge difference in how you feel, and the energy you emit to your family will be more positive. And that will come back to you. Gratitude can be extremely strengthening for yourself and your family connections.
4. Connect with friends. As long as your friends aren't competitive foodies who like to show off their freezer(s) full of Pesach goodies, and they're slightly as stressed or bluesy as you are, then make sure to carve out time to see them. Admitting that you don't always love Yom Tov prepping and feel immensely guilty and inadequate about it, and then finding out that you're not alone, can be extremely therapeutic. Even a 1/2 hour corroborating with likeminded women over warm coffee (and whipped cream!) can alleviate a huge load of stress.
5. Connect to God. Try to realize WHY we're doing all of this work in the first place: Because He saved us. And He's still saving us, and we are grateful. In those moments when our thoughts and energy aren't feeling positive, talking to G-d can really help. Just ask Him to help and strengthen you, and know that He created imperfection and that you're good enough just by the fact that you exist.
Here are some of my personal Passover survival tips that I've learned to be okay with over the years:
1. I don't compete. I'm really great at a lot of things but I don't have to be great at everything. And I certainly don't have to do exactly what everyone seems to be doing.
2. I don't participate in the frenzy. It seems like everyone's running around crazed the minute Purim is over. My attitude is that I'll be busy right before Yom Tov anyway so why extend the craziness before I really have to. I watch the frenzy from afar and maybe I'll write up a menu and shopping list over coffee a week and a half or so before Yom Tov.
3. I clean according to Jewish law. Learn the laws and you will relax immediately. For example, you are not responsible for the crumbs the size of a molecule embedded in your sofa. You do not have to remove every book from the shelves and vacuum every page. Learn the laws and delegate jobs.
4. I don't bake on Pesach. With the exception of one bowl brownies or cake mixes, I can proudly say that my desserts consist of fresh fruit, ices, or brownies with ice cream. Or we skip dessert completely. I've never whipped an egg white for a Pesach cake, and no one in my home has ever felt deprived.
5. I avoid almost anything that requires a food processor. Besides for the requisite potato kugels, there's no reason why a yom tov meal can't consist of fresh chicken, good meats, roasted veggies, and fresh salads. Kugels shmugels...they mostly feed the garbage can anyway.
6. I expect imperfection. No matter how you slice it, family time can get intense. Instead of worrying about what can go wrong, I expect things to go wrong. Then I can laugh about them, or at least deal without drama.
Sending you all lots of positive energy and love and wishing you a beautiful, warm, redeeming Chag Kasher V'Sameach!!