Thursday, February 20, 2020

As Passover approaches, it seems that almost everyone I know is frantically preparing for the holiday. One thing I’ve noticed is that most of the people I speak to express feeling highly anxious or stressed out as this particular holiday nears. And who can blame us? While Pesach is a family-filled and festive holiday, it also requires an incredible amount of planning and effort ahead of time, so it makes sense that we’d all be feeling the pressure. While the anxiety is certainly valid, there are some things that we can each do to reduce it, in order to avoid tainting our holiday with stress and tension.

  1. 1. Delegate: There isn’t any reason why you have to take on each and every holiday task yourself. When people offer to help, take them up on it! Not only does this reduce the pressure, but it also makes the holiday a collaborative, community-wide effort, which is also very beautiful. I like to believe that when people offer their assistance they are genuine in their intent to be helpful. If you prefer to maintain control of your menu and do the cooking yourself, try letting a friend or family member take charge of entertaining your kids for a few hours so that you can cook in peace, or let a neighbor help you do the dishes. It can be tough for some of us to accept help from others, but perhaps give it a try this year and see how good it feels!
  2. 2. Make a Plan: Review all the tasks that need to be accomplished and create a plan to achieve your goal. We all organize ourselves differently, so find a method that works best for you. Whether it’s ordering your groceries online to avoid the chaos in the stores, or creating a schedule for cooking and cleaning or a series of useful lists, make sure that they help keep you organized and stress-free.
  3. 3. Set Limits: Decide ahead of time what exactly you plan to take on and stick with it. Is one seder all you can handle this year? No problem. Check in with yourself and decide just how much you can handle without letting the pressure take over. Once you make this decision, stay firm in it and don’t allow yourself to be persuaded to take on more. Remember that you are making this choice in order to take good care of yourself and to avoid becoming too overwhelmed.
  4. 4. Practice Deep Breathing: When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxious, try taking a few deep, cleansing breaths. This can be very helpful in moving through a difficult moment and to help clear your mind and put you back on track. Deep-breathing exercises can also help ensure that you don’t get too caught up in the worry of preparing and lose track of all the enjoyment that comes along with this holiday as well.

I felt compelled to write this article after hearing so many people in my life talk about the pressure that they associate with this holiday, rather than about the positive aspects of it. What struck me the most was how many people share this experience. I hope that these tips I’ve outlined are helpful and that they help make this holiday a happy, healthy and enjoyable one.

By Kira Batist-Wigod

Kira Batist-Wigod is a clinical social worker with a wide range of experience and training in cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma work and stress management. Kira specializes in treating people with chronic illnesses, depression and anxiety. She sees clients in her private practice in NYC and in New Jersey, where she also holds workshops on various topics. Kira also works at a medical center in the Bronx. Contact Kira by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling 917-765-4743. You can also visit her website at