23 posts categorized "Emotional health"

Sleep Your Problems Away!

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I took this picture the other day from the front cover of a recent National Geographic magazine. It's totally Divine providence, because shortly you'll be reading about sleep in one of my upcoming articles. 

Sleep is THE biggest, most overlooked, most important, most ummm.... secret to health. 

Unfortunately, it's looked down upon by our society. We believe those who sleep are lazy, unmotivated, stuck in their comfort zones, and maybe unproductive. Okay, I believe it. About David. Because I'm just so jealous that he can fall asleep in three seconds! It's not fair!! 

In reality, it turns out that sleep is not only the key to increasing your productivity. It's also the key to losing weight, ridding yourself of disease, getting sick less, increasing your mental focus and clarity, and everything else you can think of. 

I've been following a former Navy Seal, Dr. Kirk Parsley, who is one of the foremost sleep experts in the world. In one of his interviews, he explains why sleep is such a critical factor in weight loss. 

Basically, if you get less than nine hours of sleep, you wake up a borderline diabetic. I don't remember how exactly he explained it, but you can check out his many interviews and learn for yourself. At this point I'm satisfied just to relay information that's practical and relevant. 

Many of his Navy Seals were complaining of being tired, not performing up to par. He tested their blood and hormone levels and was shocked to find that not only did they suffer from metabolic syndrome, which is a precursor to diabetes, but their testosterone levels were equivalent to those of an 80+ year old man.

This seemed impossible to him, but after more tests, he slowly started to realize that all of the Seals had one thing in common: they didn't sleep enough.

Well, I'm not going to give away the rest of the article, but I will give you this little amazing tidbit: Dr. Parsley speaks about ADHD, and guess what?! 

He says it is unfair to diagnose a child with ADHD until he gets one straight month of proper sleep. 

It has been discovered that symptoms of sleep deprivation are almost identical to symptoms of ADHD! 

So! For your sake, the sake of your children, your spouse, your co-workers who have to suffer through long days of working with you, and everyone else you come into contact with, GET ENOUGH SLEEP! You need 9 hours, and I know it's hard, but it will be worth it!

I elaborate more about sleep in my upcoming article, so don't miss it. 

In the meantime, I'd like you to place more importance in getting enough sleep. It's the key to your physical and mental health, happiness, and your spouse's happiness. 

Trust me. No one likes a cranky spouse. 

Scroll down for details on Rav Brody's weekly emuna talk, and have a wonderful day! (And night!)

~Racheli


How To Make Your Child Successful

As much as I hate giving David credit for stuff, I am forced to give him credit for this video. You know, he really doesn't deserve credit, now that I think about it. It's not like he was in the video, or he filmed the video. He just sent it to me. So no credit is due.

In case you're too lazy busy to watch it, I'll quickly tell you what it's about. (To be honest, I didn't watch the whole thing either, because I'm also very lazy busy.) But what I did watch was incredibly moving. 

This guy was speaking at some school graduation. I don't know if it was college, grad school, medical school, whatever. By the sound of his voice I'm assuming it wasn't high school. Okay, so I didn't really pay attention that well. But I did kinda listen to what he was saying, and wow, was it powerful!

He spoke about the secret to his success. He gave one very special person all the credit to helping him become who he is today. 

That person was his father. 

Because of his father's example as a very hard-working man, he learned what it means to put forth effort in order to get what you want.

But what I found even more special was the way he spoke about his father's use of motivation. Whatever that means.

His father used to constantly build him up and tell him he could do anything. He told his son he was smart. Whatever he wanted, he could accomplish with diligence and hard work. And all kinds of stuff like that.

You know, I really hope I got that right because as I type this, I'm seriously doubting if I remember that speech correctly.

In any case, my point is the same.

Every parent wants to see his kid succeed. But what many parents don't realize is how much of the kid's success is tied into the parent's moral support and motivation.

Giving your kid constant reminders about putting forth effort, believing in himself, pushing himself to do better and better - all these things impact your kid in a very deep way.

Building your kid up is the secret to his success in life.

Let's not take it for granted that our kids may be smart, or they may already be doing well in school. Every kid needs constant positive reinforcement and building up. 

G-d willing, one day all of our children will look back on their childhoods and remember our support as being one of the most influential aspects of their success.

Here's another secret: even if your kid isn't doing well in school, and he's not making any effort, that's even more reason to lie to them and give them all that positive reinforcement. You'll see that just by saying wonderful things to them, they will become the hard-working kid that actually does their homework. Supposedly. I mean, I'm not making any promises here. 

But it if works, please let me know! 

Don't wait another minute to tell your kids how wonderful, smart, talented, hard-working, and beautiful they are! 

Oh, and this little secret also works for women! For example, if your wife isn't the best cook, compliment her cooking as you choke down her overdone hamburgers that are dry like the Sahara desert.

Better yet, take her out for dinner.  

~Racheli

p.s.- Don't miss Rav Brody's weekly Emuna talk tonight! Details below.


The Truth about Anger Management

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"Normal" doesn't necessarily mean "healthy". A cave dweller thinks that darkness is normal, and can't fathom the beauty and the benefits of sunlight. In the same way, tranquility is so elusive today that many people don't even consider it a realistic emotional goal. Yet, if we want to escape a lifelong fate of emotional darkness, we desperately need to find a way back into the "emotional sunlight" that is the birthright of each and every one of us.

A good example of this confusion between "normal" and "healthy" comes from the American Psychological Association. In their position paper on anger, they conclude: "Remember, you can't eliminate anger - and it wouldn't be a good idea if you could. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival."

These words strike me as most peculiar. They seem to assume that we all live in a dangerous jungle, where only the biggest, angriest inhabitants manage to survive. In fact, I can testify from my own personal combat experience in one of the world's most elite military units that anger clouds decisions and lowers effectiveness. If we're talking about survival, an angry soldier is far less likely to survive that a calm one. A good soldier has to be cool-headed in order to function at an optimal level. An angry soldier, by contrast, is a menace to both himself and his brothers in arms. And if that's true in the high-stress battlefield arena, it's certainly true on the city streets.

Most of conventional psychology's anger-management programs are based on the faulty assumption that "containable" anger is a good and even necessary thing. For example, the APA suggests that with anger management therapy "a highly angry person can move closer to a middle range of anger in about 8 to 10 weeks". Translated, that means that you won't break windows anymore, but you'll still be gritting your teeth, clenching your fists, and maintaining your candidacy for heart disease and strokes.

The basic flaw with this approach is easy to understand once you realize an important truth about anger: Fundamentally, anger is an addiction. And you can't "manage" an addiction - as any drug, tobacco, or alcohol rehabilitation specialist will tell you. An alcoholic can't limit himself to two Bloody Marys a day, just as a heavy smoker can't cut back to five cigarettes a day. The results are not permanent! Addiction management requires a huge amount of sustained willpower. Why invest so much physical and emotional energy when better options are available?

Oh, you'd like an example of a better option than substances or anger management? Try combining walking with personal prayer. The Trail to Tranquility will also make a dramatic change in your life for the better. 


Dismantling: a stress-management strategy

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The Talmud offers practical homiletic advice on how to survive under extreme stress:

Shipwrecked

Rabbi Akiva sailed from Israel to Cyprus. Before he left port, he saw his prize understudy, Rabbi Meir, board an older vessel, also sailing to Cyprus. In the midst of their journey, a terrible gale struck the Mediterranean. Rabbi Akiva's heart broke as he gazed into the distance, wincing while the storm lashed into the decrepit craft that carried Rabbi Meir. In a matter of minutes, the latter's ship was utterly destroyed...

A tear slid down Rabbi Akiva's cheek. "What a waste of a brilliant mind!" he lamented.

Several days later, upon reaching the shores of Cyprus, Rabbi Akiva entered a local synagogue and house of study. Flabbergasted, he froze in the doorway. Rabbi Meir was in the middle of a lecture to a group of Cypriot Talmud students. Seeing his esteemed teacher and spiritual guide in the doorway, Rabbi Meir ceased lecturing. "Rabbi Akiva, my honored master, please come inside!"

Rabbi Akiva could barely speak. "M-Meir! Y-You're still alive! H-How did you get ashore?"

"Simple, my master. Instead of focusing on the stormy sea, I rode one wave at a time. I caught wave after wave until I reached the shore!"

* * * * *

Had Rabbi Meir attempted to battle the entire tempestuous sea, he would have expended his strength in a short time. Instead, he used the centuries old formula of "divide and conquer" - Rabbi Meir knew that he couldn't overcome the sea, but he could surely cope with one wave at a time. Even more amazing, he arrived ashore before Rabbi Akiva!

The 2nd-Century CE sage Rabbi Meir teaches us the secret of staying on top when we seem to be buried under an insurmountable load of stress. Don't fight a whole raging sea, or don't try to move a one-ton boulder that's in your way. Take a 5-lb. hammer, and break chips of the boulder. Before you know it, the boulder - that ton of stress on your shoulders - is no longer there!

The secret of handling an overload of stress is dismantling - don't try to deal with all your pressures simultaneously. Ride one wave at a time, and you'll make it safely to shore, too.

Don't forget also that the best way of dismantling is to take all the problems off your own shoulders and throw them onto Hashem's lap. You do that with an hour a day of personal prayer; that will really make you feel light on your feet!


Take Care of Yourself!

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I LOVE this little boy!!! 

Of course I love my other kids too (especially when they're asleep or at school,) but they hate it when I sneak pictures of them. This one hasn't yet put up a fight. Soon enough... 

So you might or might not be wondering what a face full of spaghetti has to do with emuna. To be honest, not much. But it does have to do with eating, which is kind of related to what I wanted to write about today, which is related to emuna. It's like six degrees of emuna. I can connect all kinds of dots. It's a talent.

I gotta tell you, I really enjoyed Chanukah, but I'm relieved that it's over. Isn't that horrible to say? YES! I admit it. Actually, I'm not happy that Chanukah the holiday is over. I'm happy that the kids are back in school and life is getting back to my usual routine of absolute craziness. You parents know what it's like to be stuck at home with all the kids for weeks at a time. It certainly ain't no vacation, and the kids just want to eat and be entertained all day long, and I'z be like, "Go find yourself a friend, boy!"

The hardest part of Chanukah was not being able to go to the gym. Hold up! I know that sounds very vain and self-centered. 

But here's my point: I don't take care of my body for vain reasons. I'm not out to win a Miss Zumba Israel contest or anything like that. However! I very much enjoy the feeling that I get from exercising. I feel strong, energized, empowered, and, um, all muscular and stuff.

Aside from feeling great physically, I also get a natural high that lasts for many hours after my workout. It somehow magically disappears when all the kids get home and start pulling me in 80 different directions, but until then, I'm as happy as a little kid in Disney World. 

Along with the endorphin rush comes the incredible stress relief. A good workout does wonders for releasing all sorts of tension and stress, especially the stuff that we're worried about without even realizing it.

People, especially you busy moms out there, there's no reason you can't exercise at least once, if not twice a week. Don't give me the excuse that you have no time. It's valid, but sorry, it ain't gonna fly. No one has time these days. And don't give me the terrible, INvalid excuse that you're too focused on your spirituality to exercise. WRONG ANSWER!

I see tons of people (literally tons) running from this Torah lesson to that prayer service, and another Tehillim group or something like that. Yet many of them eat terrible diets and get their exercise chasing the bus or panting their way up the stairs. 

My point is that spirituality doesn't mean you have to reject your physical existence! This is done on so many levels, more of which I will get into at another time. But for the meantime, I'd like to get you motivated to start taking better care of yourselves. 

It's not selfish to set aside a half hour to an hour a day to work out. It's life-saving! Especially with the terrible diets we eat, loaded with simple carbs, sweets, and too much dairy, the least we can do is try to counter the effects of our slow suicide by exercising. 

All you moms out there, I can't stress this enough. Join a gym and commit to going twice a week. Just do it! Don't worry about logistics to the point where you talk yourself out of it. Ask Hashem to help you figure it out, for the sake of your health, your sanity, and your marital peace, and I'm sure He'll be happy to oblige! 

I have to say that I'm proud of the women in my gym. A large percentage of them are Orthodox, and yes, they don't yet know what they're doing. But they're THERE! They've committed to making a positive change in themselves, not just for their sake, but for the sake of their husbands and children. And that's the hardest thing to do. Learning how to lift weights is the easy part.

If a mother of eight can take an hour out of her day, then believe me, you can do it. Unless you have nine children. That might be a little bit harder. 

This week, I'm asking TEN of you to take the first step and join a gym. I can't believe how much my life has improved just from getting in shape. I'm not only stronger. I have more energy, mental clarity, better focus, and more self-confidence. And all this and more gets absorbed by my family.

Ultimately, a happier, healthier you will have a stronger, deeper, and more satisfying connection with Hashem than you've ever had before. And a stronger connection with Hashem means stronger emuna. BOOYAH! 

If you're one of the ten that will commit to getting in shape, send me a comment below and we'll keep in touch! I'm excited for all of us to grow together and create real, lasting physical and spiritual changes! 

Have a wonderful, emuna-filled, pasta-free day!

~Racheli


My Cloudy Brain

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Check out this cute and creative word cloud my friend Feigi made for me! I'm proud to say that now I officially know what a word cloud is. Thanks so much, Feigi! 

She took a bunch of words from a few of my latest posts and combined it with her creative genius, and voila! For the first time, I get to have what's probably the most objective look at what's going on in my fascinating brain. 

I was looking at this thing for a while, kind of running my eyes over each word, and then, BAM! Emeril came over and started cooking some fake shrimp and kosher chorizo sausage paella. 

What I really meant to say was that if I were a psychologist, I would tell myself the following:

-Girl, you're obsessed with food. Obsessed. How many times can you talk about carbs and the ketogenic diet? 

And I would respond to myself, "Yes, in fact, I am obsessed."

-You have an awareness of Hashem. 

To which I would say, "Praise the Lord!"

-You're completely CRAZY.

"And you're not a very good psychologist. Anyone could have figured that out!" 

I sure told her. 

So, thanks, Feigi. Now the rest of the world (or at least 5 more people) knows what's really going on my head. Lots of insanity.

Now I'm off to Never Never Land, to fly around with the immodestly dressed fairies and pretend I am still young and single. And rich. Because why not. 

Oh, right! There has to be a message here. Let me think.... 

Okay, I can't. Sorry.

Have a great day!

~Racheli

p.s.- Check out the amazing video I posted below!