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 aren’t HAPPY. And feeling so guilty that you are secretly waiting for it to end. Yes it’s […]

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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 tennis Swimming […]

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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.

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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 to be supportive, encouraging, and […]

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Dear Yad Rachel…

I was recently perusing through one of the local newspapers and spotted an ad from Yad Rachel. You weren’t asking for donations, your weren’t hosting a dinner, and you weren’t advertising a Chinese Auction. Your ad was inviting all women who are experiencing pre or postpartum distress/depression to reach out to you for help. The advertisement brought back a rush of memories- all the way back when I was in 8th grade. My mother had given birth to our youngest, and everyone knew there was something wrong. My mother was completely not herself, constantly crying, and was hardly talking. I didn’t understand at the time what it was that she was going through, and I thought that I could do something to help the situation. I took to cleaning the house from top to bottom, bathing and caring for my younger siblings, and acting as the mommy at bedtime. All the while waiting for that expression of thanks from my mother. None was forthcoming. This continued for weeks, and I felt like I would crack. That’s when Yad Rachel, then a fairly new organization stepped in. Someone started coming to make suppers, someone got the extended family to get involved to come […]

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Dealing with Depression

There is a world of difference between clinical depression and having a bad day. When I was a young rabbi and I first encountered someone with depression, I vividly remember thinking to myself, why can’t he just snap out of it? What does he mean when he says he sleeps most of the day and can’t concentrate on anything? We are all tired and dealing with stress. Just resolve to get out of bed and get going. I remember not being able to understand why he was so depressed. After all, by all measures, his life was pretty good. If he were to just focus on the blessings and simply choose to be positive, he wouldn’t be depressed at all. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful that I didn’t articulate any of these sentiments to him, but nevertheless, I feel ashamed and even guilty for having being so ignorant and insensitive to what depression is all about. We perpetrate a terrible disservice by using the exact same word to describe how we feel when our favorite team gets knocked out of the playoffs or when our cell phone breaks, and a chemical, clinical illness that can be debilitating and incapacitating. Clinical […]

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When a Loved One Has Depression

8 tips to help you cope. The suicide of beloved comic actor Robin Williams has again brought the topic of depression to the forefront. I cannot imagine what it feels like to have the weight of such unendurable despair that is so intense you cannot bear even staying in this world. But I know all too well what it is like to live with family members who have depression. One of my parents, a sibling, my husband, and one of my children have also suffered from this black cloud, in varying degrees, and for varying lengths of time. I have spent much of my life living with people I love with all my heart who often have trouble feeling happy or optimistic. This is in itself is very, very painful. Depression runs in families, and seems to be especially common among Ashkenazi Jews. Maybe our difficult history somehow let it seep into our psychological DNA. Depressive episodes don’t necessarily have causes. While traumatic events can trigger depression, in many cases it is part of a person’s psychological make-up, and I was at first baffled when years ago, my daughter, who had everything going for her, including friends and success in school, suddenly […]

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NETHERLANDS: Mommy Shoes

It has been nearly two years since I asked for help. Motherhood and life felt like too much of a burden for me. After years of thinking that the problem was me, it finally dawned on me that there might be something wrong. I started therapy and found out that I had suffered from postpartum depression. Not once but three times. I also found out that the feelings I struggled with in my early teens were not just regular teen struggles. I found out that it was also depression that I had struggled with. These past two years have been the most intense years of my life. I have experienced tremendous growth. I have opened new doors and have closed old doors behind me. People talk about therapy lightly. They think therapy is nothing more than paying someone to listen and to give you advice. Therapy is no such thing. Therapy is facing yourself. Therapy is opening doors and looking into the dark corners of your soul. It is work. Hard work that sometimes  leaves you exhausted. Being as courageous, as walking into a lion’s den unarmed. Vulnerable. It is raw naked honesty and perseverance. Going down a steep, rocky and sometimes dark road without knowing […]

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Even though…

Even though you feel like a bad mother,Doesn’t mean you aren’t a good enough one. (There is NO such a thing as a perfect mother. It doesn’t exist. The desire to be one is what makes you great! Your willingness makes u great!)  Even though you feel like you are doing nothing,Doesn’t mean you are worthless. (You are valuable and precious to so many with a heart of gold that’s just broken right now.)  Even though you are angry at your kids and sometimes yell,Doesn’t mean you don’t love them. (Kids are resilient and more forgiving than any adult. They understand mommy’s not feeling well.)  Even though you feel weak and tired and can’t do as much as you once did,Doesn’t mean you aren’t the strongest bravest person who is battling a huge battle with courage and dignity. (Admitting you are broken and need help takes superhuman strength.)  Even though everyone around you seems to be managing and functioning,Doesn’t mean they are judging you even if it feels that way. (Compare and despair – not everyone’s outsides match their insides!)  Even though this PPD feels endless and hopeless,Doesn’t mean there isn’t a light at the end of this tunnel. (You […]

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Thank You Thank You Thank You!!!

We are so thrilled to share with all our readers that our Walkathon 2015 was a tremendous success!!!! For those of you unaware, our annual fundraiser is our Yad Rachel Walkathon, an event geared to girls ages 8-12! It takes place each year in the May-June time, on a Sunday morning in a beautiful Lakewood park.

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