September 21, 2010...12:07 pm

A 5-minute stress reducer

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When I was eight years old I went away to overnight camp for the first time, completely fearless, credulous and ready for whatever adventures the summer would bring.  I fell in love with camp…the s’mores, the campfires…the late nights giggling with bunkmates under stars and wobbly bunk bed frames.

As a gift before I went away for the summer, someone must have given me a diary.  I remember my first journal was a pastel pink Hallmark diary with a little lock on it.  I brought it with me that summer, and so began a lifetime of journaling!  I have been keeping a journal ever since.  Not consistently, unfortunately – some years have gone by with only one or two entries.  But the pages I have filled could turn me into the next Judy Blume one day!

My journals are well traveled.  They’ve been to the Pocono Mountains each summer…They sat on cinderblocks in my first dorm at the University of Maryland, College Park.  One even made its way through Europe when I studied abroad in Florence in 2003.

Today, I still turn to my journals when I need a little escape.  In Judaism, it’s tradition to practice “Tashlikh” this time of year.  Tashlikh (“casting off” in English) is the practice of taking old bread and “casting away” your sins by throwing it, piece by piece, into a flowing body of water.  For each piece you throw, you consider what you are sorry for, or what regrets you have.  Then you toss them into the water and let the water carry them away.  This year, when I went to the park to practice Tashlikh, I brought my journal with me, and considered what my new goals are for the year to come.

Ever wish you could just get rid of all of the thoughts that are running through your head?  Journaling is a cheap, easy way to do so.  Make a list of all of the things bothering you, or worrying you, and then take a hint from Tashlikh and cast them away!  Consider what stories you tell about yourself today.  Are these the stories you want to be in?  What new stories would you like to start as the seasons turn?

Journaling is also a great way to get your food under control.  Write about what you’re eating…how you feel after you eat it.  Plan out some delicious meals you’ll make for yourself this week, or reflect on the best meals you’ve had.  What made them great?

For those of you who celebrated the holiday this past week, L’Shana Tova!  To a new year (or a new season) FILLED to the brim with health and happiness!

Sheri

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