Stress has a huge impact on our health. If I have a stressful day or spend a sleepless night worrying about something, then inevitably I will get sick. The ensuing 'stress' related illness can last anywhere from a day to two weeks, and it can manifest itself as a cold, or body ache, sore throat, chest pain, etc.. Even severe illness such as cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes can be triggered by stress.
So how can we relieve our stress and lead healthier and happier lives?
Over the last 2 months I have become a fan of the book The Garden of Gratitude by Rabbi Shalom Arush. The book explains how people who are grateful to G-d for all the blessings in their lives have the ability to live a life of paradise here on earth.
He explains the importance of giving Thanks to G-d for at least half an hour every day. We must understand that everything that happens to us in life is for the best, even the things that seem "bad". If we have done something to initiate these problems, then we have to repent and ask forgiveness. But after that we must thank Hashem (G-d) for the so-called problem. We can also ask Hashem to help us understand why we have this problem. We have to use the experience to get closer to Him. We can also ask G-d for help to getting out of the problem but only after we have thanked Him first.
When I started saying Thank You I felt a weight being lifted off my heart. I got back into music, I even started dancing.
Rabbi Arush teaches that Gratitude is the key to miraculous salvation. No matter the situation, thanking G-d will help us to understand why this is happening, what we need to correct in ourselves, and will ultimately lead to personal redemption.
The book describes what's called personal prayer sessions called Hitbodedut in Hebrew. In those sessions we talk to G-d, thank Him, ask Him for help and very importantly look for the positive in our lives. We have every right to feel happy for every Mitzvah (good deed) that we have done.
For me, routine can sometimes be a drag. All health conscious mothers spend hours cooking healthy food every day. I won't even mention the amount of money spent on organic food.
I can either prepare all this food in a bad mood, or I can recognize the importance of keeping my family healthy and be happy that I have the ability and knowledge to do so.
The same goes for anything in life. Everything that we do can be done happily with patience or with anger and frustration. The choice is ours.
There are a million reasons to be happy. If we wake up in the morning and our hearts are beating and we can breathe, its a miracle.
We can rejoice in every tiny accomplishment. For those who take on a healthy lifestyle, every bite of healthy food you take is a kindness you are performing with your body. Removing toxic foods from your diet, getting off of the pain killers, fighting food addictions, spending money on healthy food ... Every step taken in the right direction is a reason to be happy.
If it's hard for us to thank G-d for our problems (whether it's an illness, financial difficulties, issues with our children), then we can calmly and honestly tell Him that we are stressed (without feeling self pity) and ask Him for Help to see the silver lining in the cloud. I hope that we all merit to be happy in the upcoming days.
To purchase Rabbi Arush's books please contact Joseph's Organic Bakery.