Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Laugh - for the good of your health!

The vast majority of illnesses and diseases are linked to stress in some form or another.  Physiological stress is an obvious correlate, but psychological stress should not be ignored.  Events in and of themselves are not good or bad;  it is our cognitions and perceptions of those events which trigger our feelings and thoughts, and hence our response to them.  If we react negatively, we experience stress.  Feeling stressed sets off a cascade of hormones, directed by the brain to spur the glands to produce goodies like cortisol and adrenaline.  Our sympathetic nervous system kicks into "fight or flight" mode.  In the short term this can be beneficial, such as allowing us to outrun a hungry sabre-tooth tiger.  However, chronic exposure to stress without an outlet very quickly degrades the body.

Let's hear it for seeing the humorous side of a situation.  OK, some things are simply stressful and not funny (a loved one getting into a serious car accident, for example), but relatively minor "stressors" such as Starbucks being out of soy milk, no parking spot in the mall lot, Amex gently reminding you that your minimum payment was due last week, discovering a lump of dog poop on your front lawn (and you don't own a dog), or having an etiquette-challenged customer butt in front of you in the grocery store line....none of these are worthy of sacrificing your health.  One of my go-to tactics for situations like these is to imagine something humorous, even if it is far-fetched.  My upstairs neighbours, for example, are a lively bunch, and on an almost daily basis I am treated to the sound of what seems to be a gigantic rolling pin being rolled back and forth across the floor.  (they haven't discovered the benefits of putting down carpeting).  Rather than fume and fret, I imagine that they are finalists in "The biggest pie in the world" contest, and are rolling out the pasty for their culinary masterpiece.  Their pie crust is several feet across and won't fit on their kitchen counter so they cleared their main area floor and covered it with flour and are rolling out the pastry....

Look for ways to insert more smiles and laughter in your day.  You will feel better - I promise!