10 Easy Ways to Boost Mood

No matter our age, occupation, or lifestyle, we ALL experience stressors in our day-to-day lives. Finding useful activities or coping skills, can help boost your mood, mental health, and give your mind a much-needed break in the form of relaxation and fun.   Here are 10 ideas for you to try as you improve your own mental health: 1. Journaling Whether you enjoy journaling in the form of long narratives or bullet-style journaling to help you define necessary tasks, journaling is a great way to organize your thoughts and clear your mind.   2. Coloring Adult coloring has been popular for years, and with good reason! It’s a great way to flex your creative muscle and distract yourself from ruminative thoughts. Find free coloring pages online or buy a coloring book or magazine at a local shop.   3. Cooking Oftentimes, we overlook mindful cooking and eating as we go about our busy lives. Taking the time to lovingly prepare a nutritious meal for yourself is a great way to reap nutritional rewards and enjoy the process of creating a masterpiece in the kitchen.   4. Tidying It’s common to overlook keeping our space neat when we are feeling stressed, […]

Read More

Coming to Grips with My Mental Illness

After my first child was born I developed severe postpartum depression and sank into a dark abyss.   I used to think that people with mental illness are incapable, dysfunctional, dumb, and just downright weird. Until I had the distinct honor and pleasure of joining the exclusive club. After my first child was born I developed severe postpartum depression. Life as I knew it ceased to exist. I had sunken into a deep and dark abyss. Through my journey to recovery and self-discovery I was forced to ask myself probing and painful questions. Who am I? What am I? Does my mental illness define me? Am I a worthy being? What makes a person worthy anyways? These questions kept on spinning round and round in my head and I was free-falling. I realized I was faced with the hardest choice in my life: I could take the humiliating leap and go for help or continue to let things spiral out of control on the suicidal path that I was heading towards. Deep down I knew that I wanted to go for help, but how would I be able to look myself in the mirror again? I need help? Do you hear that? I, Rivka Kaufman […]

Read More

Summer is here!

We hope you are doing well and enjoying some of the glorious weather we’ve had lately. We know how a little sunshine can go a long way!   The dark, cold and dreary days of winter are behind us. A new season is unfolding. Homework, holidays, carpools, and even some of our jobs are going on hiatus. The frantic and frenetic mode that we experience during the year is slowing down to make way for lazy mornings and relaxing evenings.   The transition isn’t that simple. Lots of shopping for those of us with teens going to camp. Reshuffling of carpools. Kids slamming doors all hours of the day, dripping ices across floors and dragging dripping towels through house. Some of us crave order and routine especially when we are not feeling our best. Some of us feel safer in the peace and quiet of our homes and don’t do well sitting outside with neighbors, in the heat and with all that noisy conversations.   So here are some pointers to help you enjoy your summer to the fullest, whether you’re a summer fan, or whether you prefer cozy winters.   1. Drink! The hot and humid weather can really […]

Read More

Keep Calm and Eat Cheesecake

Roses are red Violets are blue? Shavuos is three days long, Oh how will I get through? The men pray and learn, They connect to Hashem I cook clean and wash How I wish I was them!                                                    Spring is in the air, the world around us blossoming and blooming. The dark cold days of winter are behind us. The sun and its warmth make us smile and feel relaxed. During this season, we’ve all been counting down the Omer to this special Yom Tov. The day that Hashem crowned us as His chosen nation and gave us the Torah. A holy, happy, uplifting holiday. Celebrated with flowers, symbolic food, extra Torah learning, and special Tefilos. It’s challenging for those of us recovering from a mood disorder to only focus on the positive vibes and energy that Shavous brings. Often the stress of preparation can overshadow all the beauty. Especially with the extra day that this year’s calendar brings. Here at Yad Rachel we understand. We can relate to the anxiety and tension that comes along with preparing for a three day Yom Tov. We can empathize with the challenges of serving […]

Read More

Racing to the Finish Line… Take a Minute to Breathe!

Here are practical some ideas to a smoother Yom Tov.   Technical and physical preparations   Fill all prescriptions prior to going away for Yom Tov. Erev Yom Tov is a long day. If you are traveling out of town, keep in mind that there is no formal meal until the Seder which is late at night. A leben or a string cheese won’t suffice to keep you or your children satisfied. Hungry kids equal cranky kids. Plan options that are permissible to eat after Biur Chometz.   If traveling, make a checklist. Lists keep us organized and focused. Start packing two days prior to give yourself wiggle room to purchase last minute things. Check the weather forecast to make sure you’re packing the correct wardrobe. Here is an image of a packing list.   Buy new baby bottles, sippy cups, wash bibs. If possible, sign up some of the smaller children in a Pesach day camp. Send some of them for either all days off or even just one day to give yourself some quiet. Lakewood is full of fantastic programs run by adorable preteens the week of Pesach. Don’t feel guilty, it’s called making smart choices. Staying home […]

Read More

The Stress is Real- Tools to Help With Pesach Prep

To our dear Yad Rachel family members,   Purim has come and gone! We sincerely hope that you were able to tap into some of the joy and celebration that comes along with that magical and mystical Yom Tov.   Can we sit back and relax now? Not quite. The Jewish calendar is once again calling for us to keep busy.   All around us, there is a palpable tension in the air. Conversations of cleaning, cooking, shopping can be heard. Shelves in grocery stores being lined and filled with Pesach products. Pesach kitchens being opened and scrubbed down. Lines in kids clothing stores with purchases and returns. For a large majority of us, all this activity fills us with dread and anxiety. The lists seem so long. The errands seem endless. The cleaning seems insurmountable.   When? Where? How?   The anxiety can turn to panic; the panic can then turn to anger. “Is this Simchas Yom Tov? Really? Scrubbing and cleaning?”   The anxiety can turn to shame, which turns into feelings of inadequacy. “Everyone else is managing. Why am I crying and why am I the only one not coping?”   The anxiety can turn to avoidance, which then turns into unmanageability. “The list is too long. I can’t […]

Read More

Tips to a Stress Free Purim!

To our dear Yad Rachel family members, Purim is around the corner, just days away. A beautiful Yom Tov, celebrating miracles of redemption and salvation. A day to take the time to recognize and commemorate Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis so long ago. Feasting, dancing, gift giving, happiness and joy are the themes of the day. So why is it so stressful? Why is it that some of us aren’t feeling that happy vibe and instead feeling anxious … feeling overwhelmed…feeling tired… and even, although we feel shame admitting it, maybe feeling DREAD? It’s a challenging holiday. So much to do and accomplish for such a short day. Endless costumes, discussions about costumes, costume accessories, and then there’s creating endless amounts of Shalach Manos, kids Shalach Manos (when did that become the standard?), notes to be written to Rebbeim, teachers, therapists, delivering those endless amounts of Shalach Manos in the endless traffic, hearing Megillah twice while juggling babies who can’t attend Megillah, preparing Seudos, attending long Seudos where kids are hyper from too much sugar and too little sleep, dealing with a tipsy husband, the mess, the fatigue… And of course, weighing most on your mind, is feeling terrible shame that you […]

Read More

Natural Happiness

Using Exercise & Nutrition to Help Fight depression!   Exercise and Depression Want to learn more about exercise and depression? Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression. What are the Psychological Benefits of Exercise with Depression? Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive energizing outlook on life. Endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain by acting as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain.   It appears that any form of exercise can help depression. Some examples of moderate exercise include: Biking Dancing Housework, especially sweeping, mopping or vacuuming Jogging at a moderate pace Low-impact aerobics Playing […]

Read More

Breaking the Myth of Perfection

By: A Yad Rachel Mentor/Volunteer   I once attended a lecture years ago about postpartum depression. I volunteer at Yad Rachel, and this training like many others was mandatory. The speaker, a popular social worker who specialized in treating women of child bearing years, was asked to educate us on perinatal mood disorders. After spending time giving over many scientific facts and percentages, she suddenly shared a message that was both powerful and direct. “Ladies, there is a disease that is rampant in your community that is causing untold amounts of stress and anxiety. No, not postpartum depression. It’s called the disease of perfectionism. It’s destroying women and their families, and we must fight it!” She went on to share that in her many years of practice, she has counselled women of all different ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds. ” in general, women especially mothers, can be hard on themselves. But of all the women I’ve seen, Orthodox Jewish moms have placed unrealistic expectations upon themselves that are impossible to achieve or maintain that are bringing them to a breaking point ” She listed the demands we make on ourselves one by one, and we all nodded along. Perfect Wife – We need […]

Read More

The Fifth Trimester

The “Back to Work after Baby” Blues By: Dena Neuman So, you’re going back to work after having a baby. How are you feeling? Elated? Terrified? Wracked with guilt? Are your feelings exactly the opposite of what you expected them to be? I can see you, brand new Mommy, on the night before your first day back at work after maternity leave. Everyone else in your house is asleep, but you are not. You can’t sleep. I see you sitting at your desk, illuminated by the soft glow of the computer. You are typing Baby’s daily schedule for the babysitter, checking it over three times to make sure that you included everything in it, because how else will the babysitter know that Baby takes one short nap and then a longer one only an hour later? How will the babysitter know that he likes to be swaddled, but with one arm out, free to touch the world?   This article first appeared in Ami magazine. Please Click here to continue.

Read More