Savor your personal time. Choose an activity that you care about. You’ll feel better!

Savor your personal time. Choose an activity that you care about. You’ll feel better!

Beth Ricanati, MD, has built her career bringing wellness into everyday life, especially for busy moms juggling careers and children. She trained and worked at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. She now resides in Santa Monica, California. Follow her on Instagram at @housecallsforwellness, on her website at and check out her new book, Braided: A Journey of a Thousand Challahs here.

I believe in choosing activities that we care about in our personal time. I call these activities “meaningful rituals”. I believe that we should all have one of our own. I don’t think it matters what it is: maybe you garden, or salsa dance, or study ancient texts. My meaningful ritual involves making challah every Friday. Why? Because I believe that meaningful rituals are a great antidote to stress.

Stress has been implicated in chronic diseases – like breast cancer that affects so many of and/or those we know. Many chronic diseases are in large part lifestyle-driven. “Lifestyle” is a broad term, and encompasses many different behaviors, such as what we eat, if and when we exercise, our tobacco use, how much sleep we get and as importantly, how we manage stress. Stress has been implicated in not only symptoms such as fatigue and anxiety, but also in affecting our immune systems.

Imagine putting your hands in a bowl full of flour and sugar and eggs and salt and oil and yeast; imagine creating something out of nothing. In this case, I am creating bread, bread that I will share with my family every week. In an article earlier this year in Behavioral Sciences, researchers documented how the creative arts can help to reduce and manage stress.

So whether you grab your favorite ingredients and a mixing bowl, or maybe a pair of knitting needles and some yarn, choose a creative outlet when you have some down time this month. You’ll not only have fun in the moment, but you’ll be doing yourself a world of healthy goodness!