Tu B’Shvat: Gratitude as Self-Care

Tu B’Shvat, also called the New Year for the Trees, is a Jewish holiday focused on nature and humankind’s stewardship of Earth. Today, it’s an ecological holiday on which people also plant trees, often in memory of a loved one.

In the 16th century, the Kabbalists of Tzfat created a Tu B’Shvat seder, which endures even today as one of the many ways Jews celebrate the holiday. A traditional Tu B’Shvat seder has special and symbolic items as part of the ritual — namely seven specific species native to the Land of Israel. The seder does not have a specific Jewish observance, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to have fun with your celebration and to be creative. This seder is based on the writings of Yitzhak Buxbaum, author of “A Person is Like a Tree: A SourceBook for Tu B’Shvat”.

Tu B’Shvat can help us gain insight into living and personal growth. It is also the perfect time to practice gratitude and appreciate what we so often take for granted. Like all living things, we are constantly growing and bettering ourselves. Just as we care for the trees, we also must care for ourselves. Just as we water a garden, we must nourish ourselves. When used as part of our own self-care, gratitude can play a large role in healing, both physically and mentally.

Expressing gratitude has been shown to improve our mood, increase our connection to others and be beneficial for our health. When gratitude is a regular part of daily life, people experience lower rates of stress and depression, have reported feeling more loved and more connected to others, and are more likely to take care of their physical health. All this leads to higher energy levels, better sleep, and a stronger immune system to fight off illness or infection.

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