SAD–Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 2)

Welcome to Thursday, friends and followers. For those whose kids brought home pillowcases full of Halloween candy, good luck on dealing with having it in the house, lol! If you’re stuck with leftover candy and/or acquired way-too-much to keep, you may want to consider looking into local programs that ship candy to our military personnel overseas. Sometimes what appear to be the smallest acts of kindness can bring joy to folks under a totally different type of stress–and who doesn’t love a care package?

   

Back to today’s topic! Last time, my dear friend Diane Lang discussed Seasonal Affective Disorder and some of its apparently known causes. (Here’s the link to Part 1–please remember to come back!)

Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder – 10 Tips to Prevent the Winter Blues 

There are treatment options for SAD so you can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days.  Here are some tips to help prevent the winter blues:

1. Get as much light as you can even when you’re indoors. Open Tahoe shades, roll up the curtains, move your desk near the windows, etc.

2. Spend time outdoors during the daylight hours. The weather is cold and snowy but we do know that being outside in the winter months is beneficial. Go outside for quick walks and sit in the sun to help lift your spirits. After a few days of spending some time outdoors, you will start feeling a little better.

3. Add exercise into your daily routine. Exercise, even just walking, produces endorphins and reduces stress hormones at the same time so you get a boost of happiness.

4. Make sure to add some fun into your life. Even though the weather keeps us homebound, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Instead of feeling trapped inside, find ways to engage in things you love.

5. Be social even in the winter months. Adding more social activities where you will be surrounded with family and friends can give the extra support you need.

6. Take a vacation. Some clients feel a sense of isolation and loneliness in the winter months, if this is the case setting up vacation time in warm, sunny spots can help and give you something to look forward to.

7. Try “Light Therapy.” We know that increased sunlight helps improve the symptoms of SAD. There are certain lights you can buy called “Light Therapy Box” which mimics outside light and helps you lift your mood and spirits.

8. See a counselor before winter starts. If you have a mild case, you can take preventive methods such as seeking a counselor right before late fall to start talking to someone who can help.

9. Medications – Doctors have prescribed anti-depressants that have worked well for some patients.

10. Psychotherapy (i.e., counseling) is another great option. The therapist can help you identify your negative thoughts and behaviors and help change them. A therapist can also help you find good coping skills to feel better.

What I love about Diane’s tips is how practical each is–and most at little to no damage to one’s wallet or purse. #3 is probably my saving grace. Exercise–especially walking and/or dancing to my favorite tracts–keeps me upbeat. The endorphins–i.e., feel-good hormones–released when one exercises regularly are for real. And feeling good about how I look just bumps up my mood and outlook that much  more!

As always, special thanks to Diane for sharing her wisdom and ideas! And to you of course, for stopping by and adding to the possibilities via sharing what has worked for you. And if you please, won’t you take a moment click one of the SHARE buttons?

Take care all!

Joanna

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 1)

Happy Tuesday everyone. Hope all is well in your respective worlds. (Somehow, I’m getting by without tennis but that might be a good thing, lol.)

So: Fall is in full swing and the chill is upon us! If there were one season I could skip, it would be winter. Don’t hate it but I don’t look forward to it.

         

Summary:  As the cold weather approaches, therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang, explains what Seasonal Affective Disorder is, symptoms of it, and 10 tips to prevent the winter blues so we can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days. 

It’s almost that time of year again — cold weather, snow, ice, clouds and days with less sunlight.

For parents, winter is a tough time — finding activities that are always inside, worrying about snow days and delays and making sure kids get plenty of physical exercise even though the weather is cold and the days are shorter.

On top of that some parents (and non parents) have to deal with a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This type of depression usually happens in the winter months due to the weather and shorter periods of daylight. Being that this type of depression isseasonal, the symptoms usually come back the same time every year and go away around the same time. The symptoms usually start late fall or early winter and the symptoms start to disappear when the warmer weather and longer days of sunlight return.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you are feeling under the weather during the cold winter months but not sure if you are havingseasonal affective disorder, here are some of the symptoms associated with SAD.

1. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety during the winter months.

2. Feeling fatigue, loss of energy, trouble concentrating and unmotivated.

3.  The feelings of sadness, fatigue, isolated, etc. start out mild and become more severe as the winter progresses.

4. Change in appetite and sleeping habits.

5. Social withdrawal – loss of interest in social activities and hobbies. I know a few clients who “hibernate” during the winter months. They don’t leave their house very often during the winter months, they stop socializing and enjoying their daily activities – they start feeling isolated, lonely and depressed. Watch out for this pattern.

The cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is still unknown, but we know environmental factors plays a role. I have a client who lives in upstate New York near a lake and gets “the lake effect” where he gets so much snow and very little sun all winter. This client has had SAD at the same time every year since his move to upstate New York.  We also know that SAD can run in the family – genetics plays a role. SAD is more common in women and we usually see symptoms starting in young adulthood.

Think we’ll stop here for today, class. Thursday I’ll post Diane’s 10 Tips to prevent the winter doldrums. I know I start counting the days until spring beginning with the winter solstice! 

Have a great day!

Joanna

Is YOUR Family on Technology Overload?

Hi all! School is underway, things are busier–again–and this parent is often (uh always) trying to keep up. Ever-evolving technology adds more pressure to our time-crunched situations. Here are some tips/ideas for staying sane in a world that moves way too fast and never seems to sleep. 

Parenting Issues Caused by Technology Overload. Help!

   

Summary:  Therapist, author and Positive Living Expert Diane Lang addresses a common question clients ask her: “How can I be a good parent with all these distractions? Between my cell phone, texting, e-mails, etc. I feel I never get a break.” Today’s technology overload creates three main fixable problems that parents should address with these specific tips listed below.

Fixable Problem #1: We Are Always “Plugged In”: Parents always felt overwhelmed and busy, but now with all the added technology, our work weeks are much longer and we feel like the world never stops. The new work week looks way different then the days of 40 hours a week. Most people work 60-80 hours a week due to longer commutes and always being “plugged in” due to technology. But this is just part of the battle…

Fixable Problem #2: Communication Issues Within Families:Technology also causes communication issues within families. I hate to tell this true story, but it nails the point. I was at dinner the other night and I saw a family of four sitting around the table waiting for their food. The mom was reading the menu but the dad and the two kids were all texting or searching on their phones. It made me sad to see a family actually have the opportunity to spend quality time together and not take advantage of it. Unfortunately, this example is quite common and becoming the norm. I know in my own household if I’m in the house and my husband is outside in the yard, he will call me on my cell before walking inside to talk to me.

Fixable Problem #3: Instant Gratification and Laziness: We have created a society of instant gratification and laziness. We see the problems in kids as a result. Their lack of physical exercise, social skills and obesity are big issues today. It’s one thing to have a group of friends, but nowadays we hear kids say “I have over a 100 friends on Facebook” but yet they only have met a few in person.

Five Tips to Fix: Because of the technology overload, we are up against new issues in parenting and relationships in general and there are no new rules or handbooks to help families handle this situation. However, some basic tips still apply to keeping a happy, healthy home:

1. Communicate – we always tell parents to spend quality time with their kids. It used to be have family dinners together. We now have to add to the dinner that there should be no technology! The dinner table should be a sacred time where everyone joins in the conversation: parents, children and other family members. Ask open ended questions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” 

2. Be an active listener – in the world of technology, we don’t have as much face to face time BUT when we do it’s important to be a good listener. Make sure to have direct eye contact. Watch your non-verbal language, show you’re listening by nodding your head, facial expressions, etc. Listen to the whole story or question, pause to think about it and then answer. Really listen when someone talks – don’t think about your answer or another topic while they are speaking. Show you care.

3. Socialization is a key factor in our happiness.  Join in with family events, the community, friends, etc. Make sure a lot of your socialization is in person; we need face to face interaction.

4. Lose the attachment – all the latest technology is great and helpful, but we don’t NEED it. Don’t allow your life to be controlled by technology. Have technology free times such as after 8pm at night and during dinner time as mentioned above. This is your time to spend with family, read a book, etc.

5. Be a good role model – you teach your kids through your actions. Kids are visual learners so if your kids constantly see you on the phone, texting, etc. they will follow suit. If you’re ignoring your kids to text or sitting at the dinner table with your laptop or TV on, you will have your kids repeat the same behavior. Kids will imitate what they observe. What do you want them to see?

Visit Diane at her website: www.dlcounseling.com.

As always, pertinent, practical information that’s right on time! Thanks to Diane for sharing her wisdom and for allowing me to pass it on to you! And please feel free to SHARE below–I thanks ye!

Have a great day,

Joanna

Diane Lang on Starting Off the School Year!

As much as I don’t look forward to summer’s unofficial end, it is what it is. (At least it’s US Open Tennis time–no Rafa this year but I’m sure the tournament will be exciting just the same and I’ll be every bit as addicted to it as usual! :D)

So back-to-school takes on so many connotations, but it usually means more for parents (and kids) to do in the morning. From her outbox to my inbox (and shared with the author’s permission), here are some ideas from positive living expert Diane Lang for the day-to-day of the upcoming school year, applicable to moms, dads and anyone in the get-the-kids-off-to-school role. 

     

It’s back to school time again and as a working mom, it’s always a struggle to get myself and my kids ready for school. Here are some tips to start the school year off right – once you have momentum it makes the school year routine easy!

1.  Start the day off right with a healthy breakfast : The morning time is very busy in most     households. Trying to get the kids ready at the same time you need to get ready for work can seem almost impossible on some mornings. But if you can get through one thing in the morning it should be a healthy breakfast for both you and your family.

Breakfast is so important: It helps the kids focus and concentrate. Here are some easy, quick breakfast suggestions:

–  Cereal and fruit – My daughter loves cheerios with blueberries and strawberries on top.

–  Multi-Grain or whole wheat toast with peanut butter or

–  Apple and/or Banana with peanut butter – the peanut butter will help them remain full for the
morning.

–  Make a fruit salad on Sunday evening and in the morning give a bowl of fruit salad with a yogurt
on the side. Some kids love taking the yogurt and mixing the fruit in.

–  The non-traditional breakfast – any leftovers in your fridge? Have any leftover with a glass of fruit
juice. It’s not the norm but we do know that any breakfast is better then NO breakfast!! (I’m liking this one–makes for great lunches too.) 

2.  Contact – Stay in contact with your teacher. The quick, easy way is through e-mail. Most teachers  check e-mail every day and respond quickly. I have my daughter’s teacher’s e-mail in my address book and the school website as one of my favorites. The school website always posts all the news, events and weather issues. It’s a good way to stay involved and  connected. Involved parents mean a successful child.

3.  Sleep – A week or so before school starts, get your kids back on schedule. If kids don’t get enough sleep their academic careers will suffer. Mom’s we need sleep too – we should all try for 8-10 hours. The norm for most adults is 5-6 hours, that is not good enough and we will pay the price by being fatigued, irritable and eating unhealthy. So, moms, get back on routine with your children by going to sleep early. Try to go to sleep around the same time every night and waking up around the same time every morning to keep your body on a good sleep schedule. Make sleep  and a nutritious breakfast “A Must” for the whole family. If you keep a healthy lifestyle as a mom you will be a great role model for your kids!

4.  Physical Activity – This is so necessary for children. They need to burn fuel during the day to help keep them healthy. Obesity has become a HUGE problem for teens. Kids do not get enough physical activity at school; as moms, we must do more. As adults we tend to live a sedentary life especially if we have a job where we sit all day. So, set up family activities that involve exercise. In the warm weather – biking, swimming , hiking, walking, etc.

– As the months get colder try apple and pumpkin picking.

– Join your local gym, College or YMCA for the inside pool. Sign up your children for an after school activity or sport. It’s a good way for the kids to socialize, have fun, meet new friends and get healthy!

5.  Set up a Homework schedule. Make it the same time everyday. My daughter does her homework for 30-45 minutes a day right before dinner at the kitchen table. I cook while she does her homework. If she has any questions, I’m right there to help her and keep an eye on her.

6.  Good Habits – I have made reading a nightly habit. About 15-20 minutes before bed – we read together. It’s a good way to relax before bed, spend quality time and keep up with her reading skills. I’m starting the reading habit early (Pre-school) so when she is older she will continue to read before bed. Reading is a great end to the day – it helps with creativity, imagination, language skills, problem solving, memory, focus, and attention. If you start young, you will start a bedtime ritual that could go on for many years to come.

For more information visit Diane’s website: www.dlcounseling.com

Counseling Educator
www.dlcounseling.com

So there you have it, friends! A wonderful compilation of ideas to make the start of the school year a little less stressful and keep it so as it progresses! Check in Friday for a simple, wholesome breakfast recipe that’s right along those healthy lines Diane talked about. And please, if you’d kindly take a moment to SHARE I’d so appreciate it.

Thanks and have a great day,

Joanna

The Tender Years and Bully Prevention

Happy Monday and second day of July, friends. We’re working on staying cool here in the East–something the Midwest has been dealing with for well over a week already. 

My son’s girlfriend took this shot and created this lovely mirror effect in her photography class. I thought it was awesome enough to post! You go, girl!

Back to blogging! Chances are I’ll run this post again when school re-opens. The topic of bullying has gained a lot of attention in the past year, especially with all the newly imposed anti-bullying mandates on the American education system.

Summary:  Psychotherapist, Author and Positive Living Expert Diane Lang lays out six steps parents can take to help prevent bullying (starting at preschool age).  

Bio: Diane Lang offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living. As an expert in her field of therapy, Lang has been interviewed for numerous magazine and newspaper articles and has been a frequent guest on radio and TV shows including “Fox & Friends” on the Fox News Network. Lang is a monthly contributor for “Family Beautiful” magazine, a weekly columnist for MommyTalk.com, a regular featured expert on the “Expat Show” broadcasted weekly on the New York ABC affiliate WTBQ-AM.

Turns out she’s a good friend too! Here are Diane’s thoughts on the topic of bullying:

The recent news story about the grandmother being bullied by kids on the bus struck a cord with all of us. Parents play a huge role in the prevention of bullying. If a child doesn’t know how to express themselves they will become frustrated, angry and act out either towards themselves or others. Here are six steps for parents to take to help prevent bullying:

1.   Teach kids to express themselves and let them know it’s okay to do so. Teach your kids that emotions such as fear, sadness and anger are normal.  What makes them bad is when you internalize your emotions or take them out on others such as bullying. You can teach kids about emotions as early as preschool – ages 3 or 4.

2.   As the parent, be the role model. Do not bully your kids, others and don’t bully each other. If kids are seeing bullying in the household, they will think it’s okay.

3.   If your child is the bully make sure there are consequences for their behavior both at school and home.

  •  The consequences must be specific to your child. If you say no TV but your child isn’t interested in TV it won’t work. Punishment and discipline are very important BUT remember discipline is also showing love.
  • There also has to be consistency with discipline and punishment. The promise of punishment and not sticking to it shows your child they can get away with the bad behavior and they will keep continuing the bad behavior.
  •  Finally, make sure you let your child know that bullying is never acceptable behavior. Go over all actions/behaviors they show that could be considered bullying so they understand. We are seeing bullying at younger ages even in preschool and elementary school.

4.  Teach your kids kindness, respect towards themselves and others, empathy, patience, warmth, caring, etc. They can learn these traits. These traits lead to healthy behavior.

5.  Get your kids involved in volunteer work and community activities. When kids learn to help others
at a young age it causes a few things: Instant boost of happiness, respect for themselves and others plus it raises self-esteem. It also teaches diversity. So again, you’re helping your child to see that everyone is different and that is okay!

6.   Keep an open dialogue with your child. Good communication is key. If you have a good relationship with your child, they will come to you if they are getting bullied.

  • Go over ways your child can handle a bully.
  • Always let your child know it’s not their fault they are being bullied. Empower your child by building them up.
  • Always work on building your child’s self-esteem. Let your child know how proud you are of them. Praise them, listen to them and show them lots of love!

Visit www.dlcounseling.com for more information or contact Tasha at pr@dlcounseling.com

Special thanks to Diane for all her wonderful contributions to this blog! As always, I thank each of you for your virtual visits. If you please, take a moment to click one of the SHARE buttons below and help spread the word on this sensitive topic? 

Have a great day and rest of the week,

Joanna

Job Description: Mom Wanted

Yay! Post number 235!  Hope you’re all enjoying this day. 

Celebrated mine and my niece’s birthday and mother’s day yesterday with snacks, homemade pizzas and dessert. We had my brother and his family, my mom and later, my son’s friends. Couldn’t ask for better. Spent this morning running around a little but now settled in and enjoying my yard, the breeze and my laptop!  (Weather on the north-central east coast has been awesome all weekend.) Special thanks to my good friend Diane Lang who sent this to my inbox and never minds my sharing her wonderful emails! 

    

It’s Mother Day today. I wanted to send a reminder of how much all moms do for us. If we had to hire  a mom this is what the ad would look like and I’m sure more could be added on! If moms received a paycheck our annual salary would be around $125,000. I think Moms are priceless!
Make sure you tell your mom how special she is this Sunday and all year long!
Happy Mother’s Day:
 
Help Wanted: Mom
Must have a beautiful  smile, warm eyes and a loving touch. Highly motivated and energetic individual with the ability to multi-task, negotiate, and manage time. Must be a self-starter and be willing to learn new tasks at any time. Must be organized, delegate responsibility and manage a budget. Patience is a must. Must work well under pressure. Must be responsible, caring, disciplined and have good managerial skills. Listening skills a plus. Must have a reliable car. Position requires long hours, overtime, weekends and holidays. No sick or vacation time. Pay is low, appreciation is rare but you will learn a lot from this position.
Diane Lang, MA
Counseling Educator
www.dlcounseling.com
Thanks again, Diane! Hope you’re enjoying your day, too. 
Catch the rest of you later in the week!
Joanna

Stress? Diane Lang Helps Tackle THAT Monster

Welcome to Monday, friends. I always like to post positive articles and/or tips to start the week off. Always a pleasure to have my wonderful friend Diane Lang in the house! 

          

Here are some of Diane’s ideas on handling stress. Hey. None of us are spared the stress-monster but we can equip ourselves to manage at least some of it, so…

Here’s Diane:

We all have times in our life when we feel stressed out and overwhelmed.  Unfortunately, we can’t live a stress free life BUT we can change how we react to stress. We can become more optimistic and resilient so when stressful events happen in our life, we can handle the stress and move forward.

1. Admit that you are having feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, etc. If you try to hide and deny the pain you will end up burying it deep inside with no outlet. The unfortunate part is it will eventually rear its ugly head. Admit to your pain and take control. This will allow you to move forward an feel powerful. If you stay in denial, you will end up feeling stale, stagnate and depressed.

2. Work on what you CAN control. Once you admit your painful feelings then you can move on to working on what you Can control and remove what you can’t. If you continue to work on things you can’t control you will become frustrated and set yourself up for failure. Write a list of everything in your life that you can’t control. Take that list and do a symbolic activity to show that your removing the can’t from your life. Take the list and put it through a paper shredder or throw it into your fireplace whatever will symbolize your saying goodbye to the cant’s in your life. Then write a list of everything you can control. This will be the list you work on.

3. Find the good even when things are bad. Always look for the positives in a bad situation. For example: I have a friend who has cancer. Even though she has a bad diagnosis, is going through chemo, radiation and paying off medical bills, all she can talk about is the new great friends she has made. That is true positivity and resiliency. Sometimes the positive is what you have learned in a bad situation or how strong you have become but there is always a positive. Look at the big picture and you will find one.

4. Free write – journal write. It’s very healing. Journal writing can help you:

– Look back to see how far you have come;

– Problem solve and find solutions;

– Really think and work through your feelings.

Questions to ask yourself when writing:

How do I feel? Write if your feeling upset, angry, hurt, etc

Write your issues and then ask yourself: What can I do now?

What did I learn?

5. When your stressed you feel emotionally and mentally exhausted but it’s important to remember stress affects you physically. Be in tune with your body. Use your physical signs as warning signs/red flags that something is wrong. Are you feeling fatigued? Stomach problems? Neck and back aches, joint pain, etc.  These signs will let you know it’s time to stop, refuel and relax.

6. Relax. Make sure to take some extra time in your day to meditate, deep breathing exercises, yoga or walk/exercise. Exercise is one of the quickest ways to relax and de-stress quickly, all we need to do is walk. Go walking 3-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes and feel your stress melt away.

Join me for one of my workshops:

Monday April 2 at 7pm – Baby steps the path from motherhood to career – moms re-entering the workforce; Parsippany Adult and Community education, NJ 973-263-7180 ext 4342

Tuesday, April 3 at 6pm – Retrain your brain to positive; Warren Community College, NJ 908-689-7613

For more information please visit Diane’s website.

You can e-mail Diane too: Lifeline36@aol.com

Thanks so much, Diane! 

So how do you take the stress-monster by the reins? Any tip in particular that you identified with or one you’ve tried that works for you? How about one that may not be listed here? Please add your wisdom–think how you’re possibly benefiting so many others by doing so! (And, if you like what you read here, please take it one step further and give a click on the share button(s) of your choice? Thanks!)

Fans of HAPPILY DIVORCED and/or Fran Drescher or John Michael Higgins or any of the zany cast members, Wednesday is your day!

Many thanks for stopping by. Have a great one,

Joanna