Dear Rachel,

I am seriously stressed out. It seems like I don’t have a moment to myself, with the demands of work and family and household responsibilities. I’m overscheduled, overtaxed and overwhelmed. To top it all off, my husband keeps nagging me to get rid of stuff. He says we have too many things and that we have no room. This is causing tension between us and adding more stress to my life. Please help!

Stressed and Stuff

Dear Stressed,

I hear you. It seems that both your timeI am seriously stressed out and your space are maxed out, and you need some room to breathe.

So take a deep breath. Exhale. Here are three ways to de-stress:

  1. Recharge and relax on Shabbat. It’s easy to get caught up in the trivialities of this material world. So G‑d mandated that we spend one day a week focused on that which is eternal. Shabbat is a sanctuary in time, a day to rest, enjoy good food, bond with our Creator and spend quality time with our families. If you’re not already doing so, keeping Shabbat is a great way to recharge your batteries.
  2. Prioritize, delegate and slow down. Life has become very fast-paced, but you don’t have to rush to keep up. Do the things you must do first, delegate whatever you can, and budget more time for every task, errand and activity so that you’re not rushed. Look for shortcuts, like paying bills online and bringing things to do while waiting for appointments. Get rid of commitments and obligations that aren’t vital to your functioning and happiness, and focus on what is meaningful and necessary. Let G‑d handle directing your life.
  3. Declutter. Your husband is right on this one. In Ethics of Our Fathers we learn that many possessions lead to many worries. Having a lot of “stuff” takes up space in your head as well as your home. It may feel overwhelming to go through all your clutter, so take small steps every day to throw out old papers or give away outgrown clothing and toys. Ultimately, you’ll feel happier and lighter. And your relationship with your husband is more valuable than any possession.

A visitor of the Maggid of Mezeritch was surprised by the very Spartan way the tzaddik lived. “Where are your possessions?” he asked.

The Maggid responded, “Where are yours?”Many possessions lead to many worries

“I am just a visitor here. I’m just passing through,” answered the visitor.

“So am I. This world is transient—I am just a visitor, just passing through.”

The Maggid understood that this world is not “home”; we are just sojourners on the road to the World of Truth. So if an activity or possession is not helping you serve G‑d, then it’s really not necessary. For at the end of the day, all we will take with us into the next world are our mitzvahs.

Best of luck,
Rachel