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  • Writer's pictureShulamis Cheryl Mayerfeld

5 Ways to Get Through the Jewish Holidays This Year

1. Make your big plans smaller.

This is a notorious time of the year for taking on big resolutions - whether for the coming year or for the period of days known as the High Holidays. How many of us have high aspirations and take on big resolutions only to feel mounting pressure followed by discouragement, and ultimately disappointment and frustration at our inability to follow through. So, take your resolution and half them!Then half it again. And then perhaps even again. Bring it down to it's smallest denominator and start with that, then build up. And if you feel unable to accomplish that resolution, try to face your experience with curiosity as opposed to harshness. Consider what got in your way of achieving your goals in order to better understand yourself and not to berate yourself.

2. Carve out time for physical and mental enjoyment in addition to spiritual activities.

Don't lose sight of the fact that it is a holiday time. Think about some activities that will bring you personal joy during this time, and don't focus solely on the spiritual observances and growth. Whether it's stocking up on some favorite foods (chocolate anyone?), getting absorbed in a good book, or taking some quiet time alone before prayers or holiday meals. Our physical and mental well-being is just as important and can actually directly impact one's spiritual experience as well.

3. Embrace that this year will be different than last.

Of course COVID-19 has affected how the holidays will be observed. Many will be spending this time alone or with less family and friends. Some may be staying home from prayers or partaking in distanced communal services. Allow yourself to feel the grief of it and figure out how to make adjustments that feel authentic to you.

4. Begin a gratitude practice.

In the midst of the grief and complaining (which I actually encourage!) about the stress, pressure, loneliness and sometimes despondency that this time of year brings, sprinkle in some gratitude. Anything that has occured over the past year that you feel grateful for and any (even small) opportunities you may be anticipating for the coming year.

5. Most importantly, cut yourself some slack. Please remember that your only requirement is to just be and get through these days. No great ground-breaking inspiration needs to result during this time. If you merely breath, be, and get through this time you are doing stellar!

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