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Peaceful Sabbath Preparation

7 DIY Ways to Beat Anxiety On Shabbat

Holy Shabbat. Ironically, Shabbat, the day we look forward to all week, often turns out to be the day we experience the most anxiety, restlessness, and irritability. Unfortunately, anxiety on Shabbos is a real thing.

With a forced break from our phones, internet, and the hustle bustle of daily life, our minds are less distracted and there’s suddenly ample time for anxious thoughts and feelings to carry us away. If you find yourself getting stuck with your worst anxiety over Shabbat, you’re certainly not alone.

Tips to reduce anxiety on Shabbat and experience a tranquil day of calm and rest:

1 Journal on Friday afternoon

Yes you heard that right. I know it’s a hectic day and just when you think it can’t get more chaotic the day gets even shorter. Regardless of time, your anxiety and peace of mind require you to take 15-20 minutes and journal. Time will thank you later.

Writing down thoughts that are troubling you as well as potential anxiety triggers over Shabbat, will help you externalize the anxiety. Putting your worry thoughts and feelings to paper sends a signal to your brain that issues are in the process of being dealt with and no longer need to stay at the forefront of your mind. Additionally, being able to articulate how you feel allows you to be more cognizant of your emotional state, which in turn gives you a healthy sense of control over your emotions and life.

Note: You may feel worse immediately after this exercise and that does NOT mean you did anything wrong or that journaling won’t work for you. It can and likely will benefit you regardless of the immediate feelings and experience.

2Watch the caffeine and sugar

I get it: your morning doesn’t start until the second cup of coffee, the kokosh cake, and your third rugalah.

However, as innocent as these morning picker uppers appear, they can have adverse effects for those with anxiety.

Caffeine is a stimulant; it gets the heart rate up and keeps us going when we’d rather stay in bed. Only that jittery feeling we associate with a caffeine rush also stimulates our “fight or flight” response. If you’re prone to anxiety, don’t overdo it on the caffeine intake even if your surroundings on Shabbat have made countless cups of coffee the new norm.

Sadly, sugar is no different. While it doesn’t cause anxiety in the same way that caffeine does, its temporary boost of serotonin can lead to unwanted mood swings. Sugar gives you a quick up, a just as quick down, and a load of much unwanted anxiety in between.

Of course, don’t deprive yourself. Special foods and drinks are the natural social and emotional outlets that Shabbat inspires. However, it’s worth noting which food groups impact your mental state and making small sacrifices that are worth your sanity.

3Enjoy lavender and chamomile tea

While others are sipping their third cup of joe, you can still join the social scene with a good-for-you and good-for-anxiety alternative. Make Shabbat the time you enjoy a cup or two of lavender or chamomile tea.

Studies have shown that lavender and chamomile herbs ease restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. It’s no wonder that its heady fragrance and delightful taste has become the gold standard of aromatherapy.

To get the most out of your tea break, be sure to cover your mug while steeping the tea bag. This prevents the potency of the herbs from literally going up in smoke, and evaporating in the steam.

While your tea is steeping, it might be the perfect time to…

4Curl up with a good book

Is there anything better than the smell of an old book, the crinkle of its yellowed pages or the creases along its spine?

Whether you’re catching up on the latest novel or rereading your favorite page turner, reading is an excellent means of coping with your anxiety.

Reading can help treat anxiety’s physical symptoms by lowering your heart rate, occupying your train of thought, and providing a great distraction from whatever might be troubling you.

Reading is also a solitary activity, so in a way it’s its own form of meditation. Just six minutes of reading can help reduce stress levels, so why not read that book you’ve been putting off since high school?

5Plan a meet up

Social media withdrawal is a thing, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel isolated during Shabbat.
There are plenty of ways to stay connected to your friends without an internet connection. Arrange game night on longer Friday nights or simply hang out and do nothing together. Doing nothing in duo turns out to be a lot more fun that doing nothing by yourself!

If being around too many people triggers your social anxiety, go the solitary route instead over Shabbat and…

6 Move it!

Instead of feeling stuck in your room, give the fresh air and the great outdoors a chance to show you what it has to offer. Don’t let the no-gym option force you to remain a couch potato. We all know that movement on Shabbat is certainly kosher.


A ten minute walk is a tried and true way to clear your mind, boost your mood, and optimize your mental state. Emotionally, it can do as much good for your anxiety as a 45-minute workout. While you walk, try to notice and appreciate the little things. Feel how the wind pushes you along your path and listen to the noise you create as the leaves crunch beneath you.

7 Play a mindfulness game

One of the most difficult parts of living with anxiety is learning how to disrupt a negative train of thought and stay with the present moment.

To counter this, try choosing one activity to stay mindful with and see how many times you can catch yourself wandering to a different place in your mind and then bringing yourself back to the chosen activity. Have fun with this while sipping your tea, reading your book, or taking your walk.

Anxiety does not have to ruin your Shabbat. Take concrete action before and during Shabbat to regain the day of rest you definitely need and most certainly deserve.

How do you deal with anxiety over the weekend? Share any of your favorite anxiety tips with us in the comments below.

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Rachel Brezel

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Incredible article. Thank you @rachel!!! Just wanted to add that all these activities are AMAZING self care options, which is so important. When we care for ourselves, we have the fuel to give to others and are bothered by others less.

  2. amazing and informative article!! You included so many important and practical points. i especially like the idea of journaling before shabbos. We could even journal a Cope Ahead plan for Shabbos. Thank you!!

  3. Amazing and so many ideas to choose from! Shabbos is a very hard day for very many of us dealing with anxiety. Thank you so much first for the validation that normalizes the many conflicting feelings that we feel on a day that is supposed to be pure relaxation, and Thank You for all the tips we can use to get those feelings to become more positive. I like the point that you wrote about going for a walk outside, it really does work and it gets you out of the rut that you get stuck in by having too much unstructured time, which causes our thoughts to go around and around like a merryground. I will definitely try to implement some of the ideas to make things easier.

  4. You couldn’t have chosen a better time to post this article! This is literally one less thing to worry about this Shabbat, haha

  5. When we fail to feed ourselves spirituality, we feel a void. Shabbos has a tremendous inherent Kedusha and on Shabbos we are given a Neshama Yeseira. Whereas, one may feel a void when lacking spiritual nourishment on a daily basis, double that on Shabbos, when we have two souls that are craving and thirsting to be fed with spiritual pursuits. Hence, the Shabbos blues. When we focus on externals and fail to tap into the spirituality that Shabbos has to offer, our souls feel empty. The greater the discrepancy between what our souls yearn for and the physical temptations that we indulge in, the greater those feelings of emptiness, depression, and restlessness. Based on this premise, I’d like to offer an additional suggestion.
    To counteract the Shabbos anxiety, nurture yourself spiritually on this day. Daven. Say extra Tehillim. Take out a sefer and learn. Do something spiritually more than you would the rest of the week to satiate your extra soul and thirst for elevation!

  6. You said ironically shabbat was the day we experienced the most anxiety etc.
    How do you know that?
    Are you savvy to my anxiety level?.
    Who’s we?
    Are you guessing?

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