By: Julie Beyer, MA, RD
Today more than ever, many people feel the pressure to be everything to everyone. But if we fail to take care of our own physical and mental health, we will be no good to anyone, let alone ourselves. One of the quickest ways to make a change in your life is to make it a point to laugh more.
Laughter is powerful medicine. When a person laughs, the body responds with a cascade of internal events that in turn stimulate the immune system, lower blood pressure, increase oxygen in the blood, and speed wound healing. Laughter can also reduce the effects of stress on the body, help people sleep better, and help people see their problems from a different perspective. Just as important, facing life’s challenges with laughter and a sense of humor can actually strengthen relationships, bringing people together in situations that could just as easily tear them apart.
How can you improve your mood and encourage the comic within?
• Observe life through the eyes of a child—cultivate a sense of wonder
• Surround yourself with funny people—whenever possible, avoid those who drain your energy with their negative attitudes
• Choose comedy—rent funny movies, read joke books, share amusing stories with others, or sign up for a daily joke via email
• Schedule a news-free day or week—minimizing your exposure to the onslaught of bad news and reports of devastating events that saturate our daily lives
• Focus on simple humor, rejecting sarcasm, demeaning, or potentially offensive jokes, which ultimately damage relationships
• Discuss any unusual concerns with your physician—just as mental health can affect physical health, some physical conditions can cause mood disorders
Certainly, it is important to acknowledge specific, more tragic situations with appropriate emotions like grief, sadness, and even anger. However, if you practice having a sense of humor when it comes to your daily mental health and challenges, you may find that you emerge from these specific situations healthier and stronger than before!