I found an ancient Jewish solution to stress in the article “Stressed Out,” by Emuna Braverman, at Aish.com. Braverman writes, “It’s called Bitachon — trust in the Almighty, and it’s the only key to a truly stress-free existence, to real peace of mind.
“… Since the Almighty is all good, everything in the world that happens is an expression of God’s goodness …. The implications of this are ultimately very freeing. If we could really internalize this idea, we would revolutionize the way we live our lives ….”
Bitachon means recognizing that the Almighty is One, and the whole world is an expression of his will. Using bitachon as the overriding principle, here are some things you can do to battle stress:
Bring in the joy factor
Find new things to enjoy
Adapt to change
Stay physically and socially active
Be connected to your community and loved ones
Bring in the health factor
Find an activity that you like and that you’re motivated to continue
Exercise with a friend or family member
Consume fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables
Put effort into making your food look and taste good
Drink plenty of fluids
Bring in the breathe factor
When you are aware of your breathing, you are focusing your mind. A simple breathing exercise is to take in a large breath on a count of three, hold it for another count of three, and then release it on a count of three. Breathing deeply and fully with great focus can energize and invigorate you. Using your breath fully adds joy, years and vitality to your life.
Bring in the laughs
Laughter stimulates deep breathing as well as strengthening the immune system and massaging your internal organs. Laughter also suppresses the stress-related hormones in the brain and activates the immune system.
Bring in the brain factor
Find a mental activity that you enjoy and try new variations and challenges
Work something new in each day, whether it’s taking a different route to work or the grocery store or brushing your teeth with a different hand
Learn a new skill or hobby, such as advanced computer commands or golf
Even more ways to de-stress
Volunteer for a worthy cause
Move — walk, dance, play a sport, do something that rids the body of tension
Get out in nature. Exposure to nature makes you feel better emotionally and contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
Share with friends. Cultivate strong networks, which has been demonstrated to help people live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.
See yourself rooted — with roots growing from your feet deep into the ground
Seek peace of mind
Count your blessings for everything that is working in your life.
Braverman closes her article with this: “Count your blessings. This is the most obvious tool, but in some ways the most difficult. In a good mood, this is a wonderful tool. In a bad mood (when we need it the most), we grumble about its ineffectiveness. Do it anyway. Regularly. And make a spiritual accounting. How am I doing? Am I working at it?
“The most meaningful things in life are only acquired through tremendous effort (don’t you hate it when people tell you that?!). But who can imagine how great the reward …. It’s available. The Almighty is anxiously (pardon the pun) awaiting our return. Just close your eyes, lean back … and let go.”
PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is a media host, coach and award-winning radio producer and business owner. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El.