While SLB contributor Diane Lange got her start in counseling over twenty years ago. Ten years ago, she started specializing in the fields of positive psychology, positive parenting and positive education. As a parent and adjunct faculty member at Montclair State University in New Jersey, she wanted to be the best parent and counselor she could be. “Positive Psychology helped change her life,” says Lang who has an M.A. in Counseling and a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the New York Institute of Technology. Diane has her Positive Psychology coaching certificate from Wholebeing Institute. “I wanted to share all the information with other parents and kids.” She’s writes about youth mental health for SLB. Her stories include Teaching your kids it’s OK to make mistakes, How to Spot Signs of Teen Anxiety and How to spot depression in your teenager. Visit her website: DL Counseling.com.
How has positive parenting has helped your career, relating to kids?
Being a parent really pushed me into positive parenting. Growing up in a not-great parenting environment, I didn’t have good role models. I knew I wasn’t the only one who grew up feeling that way. I wanted to be a good role model for my own daughter as well as help parents to be their best. When children are young, we the parent are their best role model and teacher, especially for young kids. Kids from birth to 7-8 years old learn through observation, role modeling and imitation.
How does healthy diet and exercise figure into mental health in your practice and what you practice?
It’s huge. I ask all of my clients to keep track for a week their basic needs. Those include water, exercise, diet and sleep. It’s their foundation for overall health and well being. When our basic needs aren’t met, everything is off and we feel unbalanced. I started taking my own advice. Getting enough sleep is the hardest of all the basic needs for me. I try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every night. I avoid technology about 60 minutes before bed and any news or social media about 30 minutes beforehand. I’m also big with mindfulness which helps me to sleep whether I’m meditating, doing gratitude or prayers. Exercise is a must. We call our bodies the pain body because we hold stress on our bodies; we need movement to release it. I ask my clients to make exercise a daily part of their lives to reduce stress and I do the same. As motivation, I put a small gym in my home office.
Do you follow a particular workout routine or diet that keeps you feeling healthy?
Yes, I have a special diet. I eat an alkaline diet due to an illness I have. It’s a strict diet but it helps me to heal, and it’s also an anti-inflammatory diet, which is great. I always tell my clients with diet to watch sugar/caffeine, especially if you’re feeling stressed and/or nervous and alcohol if you’re depressed. I follow that advice for myself as well. My workout routine consists of 5-6 days a week of cardio or weights. I used to just walk which is a great for emotional health and one of the best forms of mindfulness, but I needed more. Weight lifting is another love of mine and has become part of my fitness routine, along with walking 4-5 times a week. I try to walk outside as much as possible, it helps to be in nature.
What was the source of inspiration for writing your recent book, and what takeaways can you share with us?
My most recent book is “Mindfully Happy-waking up to life.” As an educator and counselor, one of the biggest issues I hear about is feeling unhappy or blah and stressed. In Positive Psychology, we have happiness habits that are easy ways to cultivate happiness. But even if we are cultivating more happiness into our lives, we still need to be more mindful and reduce stress. This book focuses in on realistic, sustainable, easy-to-follow, free and doesn’t-change-your-schedule ways to be more mindful and cultivate happiness. It is intentionally short and easy to read for busy parents. It is important to me to give as many tips/tools that are doable for parents.
Are you surprised by the number of young people suffering from anxiety and depression?
Unfortunately, I’m not surprised by all the young people suffering from anxiety and depression. After 16 months of a pandemic, lockdowns and fear, I expected it. Loneliness and isolation are top factors for depression. Routines were broken and stress was high. It still is.
What’s your advice for parents dealing with this?
Parents can try a few things. First, as a parent, we cannot fully understand what our kids are going through. I didn’t have to go to school during a pandemic, but I can be an active and empathetic listener. We want to show our kids we are there, they are heard and cared for. Another thing we can do is empathize with the emotions the pandemic brings up for our kids. We can listen and try to find solutions for the problems that are in our control. Teach your kids problem solving skills. It helps teens and adults to feel a sense of control. Routines are also important. As we go back into school in the Fall, it’s important to have good morning and nightly routines. These schedules are not just for our kids, but for adults, too. Routines can be bedtimes, homework schedules, etc. Spend some time setting up routines for back to school, but don’t wait for school to start. Start them a few weeks before school starts to get everyone back in the swing of things.