Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category

The Key to Slowing Down? Mindful, Controlled Breathing.

February 27, 2018

We’re a culture of shallow breathers.
If I were to take a guess, I would say you are almost completely shallow.

I mean, do you actually remember the last time you filled your lungs and your belly with fresh air, and then slowly let the whole lot out again?

Maybe it was this morning during yoga, while admiring your first coffee, or when you first woke up. Perhaps it was last weekend when you finally got to relax during a massage. Maybe it was last month when you sat down to meditate. Or perhaps you don’t remember.

Shallow friend, you’re definitely not alone

In fact, we’re a culture of shallow breathers. “We’re a very stressed society that is experiencing chronic fight-or-flight response most of the time, which leads to short and shallow breathing,” says Tom Cronin, Sydney-based meditation teacher. “The World Health Organisation calls this the epidemic of the 21st century.”

We can go for weeks, months, or sometimes years barely paying any attention to something so critical to our health and wellbeing (and survival… just a thought). All because it’s an easy, automatic reaction that we don’t need to control.

Or do we?

Without mindfulness around our breathing, we’re likely to only ever breathe erratically in and out of our lungs. So yes, we do completely need to control our breathing. Not aggressively or with excessive coercion, simply consciously and regularly.

Breathing is one of the most unique functions our bodies perform

It works automatically, speeding up when we need to move or think quickly, and slowing down when relaxing or sleeping. But it can also be voluntarily controlled, unlike most other automatic functions. We are able to slow it down when we need to… which is one of the most genius features of our whole physically intricate system.

So why the need for control, you ask?

Excellent question.

Over the last few generations, our breathing has become increasingly shallow. Our lifestyles are fast, our jobs are stressful, and the pressure we place on ourselves can be wildly overwhelming. This mild (on a good day) anxiety causes us to constrict our breathing. With each teeny tiny breath, we’re basically strengthening our sympathetic nervous system, keeping us in fight-or-flight mode, all day, every day.

And that’s no good for anyone.

Chronic stress is a vicious, perpetual cycle that can cause high blood pressure, a weaker immune system, anxiety and depression. Resting used to be a source of deep breathing when the body could finally fill up and let it all out. But these days we rarely properly rest. Sure we put our feet up, hit a local café or go for a walk, but our addiction to screens means we usually have our little smartphone friend with us, which takes our breathing straight back to Shallowville.

If we want to give our health and happiness the best chance of thriving, we genuinely need to start paying attention (and putting our phones away for longer periods). “The way we breathe has a big effect on our lives in so many ways,” says Tom. “For something that is our life force, it’s time we gave it more attention and retrain ourselves how to breathe properly.”

Finding zen through the breath

“There are two approaches: Deepen and slow your breathing, and you’ll experience a more relaxed state in the mind and body. This leads to better energy, vitality and virility,” says Tom. “The other way to look at this is to create a relaxed state in the body using meditation and your breathing will naturally become slower and deeper. Either way, the results are the same: More calm, deeper breaths, more energy and better health.”

Every day, try this simple exercise: Breathe in for four to six seconds, hold for four seconds, then breathe out for eight seconds. Repeat until you feel your whole body relax. Practice this exercise every morning before you start your day, and come back to it whenever you feel stressed or anxious. Don’t forget to gently fill your belly and expand your ribs before you let it all out.

Every day, try this simple exercise: Breathe in for four to six seconds, hold for four seconds, then breathe out for eight seconds.

“Meditation helps because it leads to a shift from sympathetic nervous system state to parasympathetic nervous system state. This will naturally change your breathing,” says Tom.

It may take one deep breath into your belly and diaphragm to rediscover how good a deep breath feels all through your body. Or it may take some time as you re-train your muscles to let loose. Either way, it’s an important exercise that will change the way your body works, the way you think, and how you feel.

Whether you start with conscious breathing moments throughout your day, or find a yoga, tai chi or meditation practice that naturally slows down your breathing for you, you won’t be so shallow for long.

About the author

Kris Franken is a soul-led wordsmith, highly intuitive writer and editor, untamable foodie and wholehearted mama. She adores tree hugging, salted caramel, green tea, meditation and yoga, and laughs like it’s a competitive sport.

Article sourced here:


March 6, 2016

Want to improve your health and mental wellbeing? Getting your hands dirty might well be the answer.

Nature is a powerful balm and you don’t need to be surrounded by acres of countryside to experience its redeeming benefits. Rather, a few hours spent in the garden each week can be all you need to keep your mental wellbeing in check.

Research is showing that being present in the garden, even for a small amount of time, is the perfect antidote to a busy and stressful urban lifestyle. As your mind focuses on the quiet and steady work of digging, weeding or harvesting produce, a kind of mental declutter takes place. Thoughts order themselves and become quiet, allowing stress and anxiety to melt away. And when the mind is quiet, there’s more room for new, creative ideas to form and be heard.

Image via: Tuinieren Focusing on a simple, repetitive act is a great way to clear the mind.

Image via: Tuinieren

Focusing on a simple, repetitive act is a great way to clear the mind.

In its simplest form, mindfulness is a heightened state of awareness. This state of being is beneficial for calming the mind, managing stress and learning to live in the moment. Most people associate mindfulness with meditation, but there are many ways you can practice mindful living, with gardening becoming a more popular way of doing so.

There are two main reasons why gardening goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness.

1.     The connection between nature and wellbeing

A number of studies have proven the positive relationship between green spaces and mental health. People who spend time in natural environments experience lower levels of stress and anxiety, as well as improved mental health. While achievements such as a nurturing a flower garden may seem small, they actually connect us with something much larger – the energy of the planet and cycle of life within it. That is why the feeling of accomplishment from gardening is endlessly satisfying and hard to find elsewhere in life.

2.     Gardening is an act of solitude

As Sigmund Freud said: “Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.” Unlike other environments we are exposed to on a daily basis, the garden is a place for peace and quiet. It demands little and rewards you with beautiful blooms and bountiful produce. Gratitude, solitude and repetitive physical tasks such as potting plants give your mind a chance to rest, allowing you to embrace a peaceful state of being. When this happens, you’ll begin to feel rejuvenated, even if you are physically tired.

Image via: Simon Griffiths Photography  Create a quiet corner in the garden where you can slow down and be present.

Image via: Simon Griffiths Photography 

Create a quiet corner in the garden where you can slow down and be present.

So how can you find mindfulness in the garden? Gardens are naturally quiet environments, making them a perfect spot to move into an almost meditative state. Rather than putting on a podcast or music the next time you venture outside, focus on listening to the sounds of rustling leaves and any birdlife. Make an effort to appreciate the different textures of dirt, flowers and foliage, and take note of how much your plants have grown.

These small actions will help you to clear away nagging thoughts and simply appreciate the moment for what it is. After a while, your conscious efforts to engage the senses will become second nature.

Think of gardening in this way and watering or weeding will no longer seem like a chore, but rather a chance to reconnect with the earth and your mind. Your brain will thank you for the time out.

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What Is Secretly Making You Miserable.

September 5, 2015

“I am going to focus on 6 things that we need to drop, stop, give up entirely. If you want to be happy – you will need to stop doing these things!

Put simply, we need to do some unlearning in our lives. I have observed that there are key things we do that keep us stuck, unhappy and living in the past. By holding on and continuing to do these we are guilty of sabotaging our success, our sense of peace and our joy.”
As a life coach — I focus on what my clients want in order to be happy — how we want to feel, what we want to achieve, what we want to learn.

We need to do some unlearning in our lives. I have observed that there are key things we do that keep us stuck, unhappy and living in the past. By holding on and continuing to do these we are guilty of sabotaging our success, our sense of peace and our joy.

1. Hold a grudge
Forgiveness is the key to freedom. As Marianne Williamson says, “Forgiveness is actually out of self-interest.” When we hate, feel anger or resentment towards another, the intended impact, to hurt them, backfires on us. We harbour the anger and resentment within our own minds and bodies. Ask yourself, “how can I see this situation differently?” Keep asking that question and keep digging deeper until your grudge starts to shift and change shape.

2. We give up
To me, giving up on our dreams is the saddest thing we can do. So often we bury our gifts, follow a “safe” path or simply do not give ourselves permission to pursue what it is that we really, really, really want. This results in huge regret later in life and dullness in the present moment. I heard once that the definition of hell is when the person you are meets the person you could have been. Wow is all I have to say to that. Our inner voice knows when we are not living our truth and this voice does not go away (although we try to tune it out). It’s very likely you know the exact voice I am talking about.

3. Let distractions guide our day
When we live life as I like to say, “from the inbox out” we are often completely unaware of the happiness we could be experiencing from self-directing our lives. We need to allow some disconnect from the agenda that social media and email sets for our day – from our morning alarm clock through to bedtime Instagram “liking”. How different might your life look if your daily distractions were no longer there?

4. Settle for superficial friendships
Since moving to New York I really noticed this. When making new friends I realised that a lot of time people do not talk about things that really matter or make themselves vulnerable. Whenever I bring up my early divorce or modest upbringing, people tend to open up with me too, as we all secretly want to make a genuine connection with other people. People sometimes tell me, “Its so nice to talk about this stuff.” We don’t realise that connecting with others has nothing to do with our exotic vacations or successful career stories — it is about making a soul connection that only arises from deeper conversations. Oftentimes if you keep it real with a story about yourself, other people lower their barriers and an authentic and awesome conversation and friendship can emerge. You don’t need to settle for surface friendships.

5. Compare!
Comparison is selective, exaggerated and unreal. We have no idea what is going on in other people’s lives. We may envy their fortune but not know their child is struggling with bullying or that their marriage is falling apart. Instead we should be too busy envying our own good fortune (gratitude, my friends).

6. Hold back on the giving
At the end of it all, it is not about us! The greatest, most real and rewarding sense of happiness comes from helping others. I know a lawyer who teaches guitar on Sundays to children who cannot afford lessons. He says it is one of his greatest sources of happiness. To me, this is the most beautiful thing about the world — that giving of ourselves creates the most joy. It’s unbeatable.

In the spirit of a new season upon us, how can you start disconnecting a bit more, dreaming a little deeper and giving a little extra of yourself? And don’t forget that little star of forgiveness. We can’t shine fully without it.

Susie Moore is a Confidence Coach in New York City. Sign up for her free weekly wellness tips at

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Asking a Person if they’ve Lost Weight isn’t a Compliment

July 5, 2015

This article was source from The Daily Life, July 1st 2015.

Don’t ask me if I’ve lost weight. I haven’t. Or maybe I have. I don’t know, I’m not counting.

I’ve been ‘overweight’ since I was about 10, fluctuating between what people might describe as ‘chubby’ or ‘curvy’ and can’t-buy-clothes-in-regular-shops fat. A few years ago, I finally stopped worrying about the kilos and focused on just being happy and healthy. I don’t know what I weigh anymore, but I do know what I’m worth.

As a result of this shift in focus I am happier and, if you go by the attention I’ve received from the ladies, I’m also more attractive. I leave the house more confident and, in my opinion, better dressed, largely a result of following plus-size bloggers and having a friend who works at a plus-size store (we won’t mention her by name in case she gets in trouble for sharing her staff discount around!).

And yet, despite the fact that I’m fairly sure I’ve gained a bit of weight in this time, many friends and relatives greet me with “Have you lost weight?” when I am looking particularly good. They haven’t gotten out the tape measure or scales; indeed I question whether they’ve even scoped out my frame for a potential change in size. What they mean by “Have you lost weight?” is “You look nice today”.

So why not just say that? What value does asking if I’ve lost weight add to the compliment? All it does is remind me you’ve noticed I’m overweight and think a change to how I look would be an improvement. As an aside, I loathe the term overweight. It makes me think of luggage. I prefer to describe myself as fat.

People are so conditioned to equate ‘fat’ with ‘bad’, they can’t tell a woman she looks good without providing size-based commentary. Alas, commenting on size brings with it many risks and pitfalls. Firstly, it reinforces size-based judgment, even when it’s supposedly supportive. Instead of judging a person on their humour, warmth, great fashion choices or intellect, you’re commenting on whether they eat less and exercise more. For me, every time someone asks if I’ve lost weight, I am reminded that I haven’t, I’m reminded I am different and I am reminded that I live in a society that thinks I am a problem.

Secondly, not everyone loses weight healthily and happily. By asking someone if they’ve lost weight, you could be opening up a conversation about depression, chronic illness, eating disorders or stress. A person may not want to be reminded that they’ve lost ten kilos due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Thinner is not always better.

Thirdly, by telling a person that their weight loss makes them look better, you set them up for a fall if they gain some weight back. I recently got into a Facebook debate with a woman who commented on my friend Viv’s selfie: “While you’ve always been stunning, I want to congratulate you on your shrinkage – you’ve gone from a 10 to a 10+.”

Leaving aside rating a woman’s attractiveness out of 10 (which we shouldn’t leave aside because gross, but I only have so many words), by specifically indicating that my friend looks better skinnier, the commenter is saying that if she gains any weight back she’ll be back to a boring old 10! The argument carried on, as social media arguments tend to do, ’til the commenter stated “Maybe it’s a little arrogant for me to assume this, but I find it hard to imagine somebody would go through the hard yards of losing weight and not see that as an achievement.”

Viv finally weighed in (‘scuse the pun), writing: “I have a chronic illness. Losing weight because I’m sick, and will be sick for the rest of my life, isn’t an achievement. So yeah, your assumptions regarding my body and health are way off. And even if I had lost weight on purpose, I agree with everything Maeve said. Also, I miss my boobs.”

The triumph of winning a Facebook debate was tempered by empathy for my friend, who I knew was unwell and who I continue to have engaging and challenging discussions about bodies, size, feminism and the way society equates ‘healthy’ with ‘skinny’.

When I was 21, I lost 17kg in a few months by starving myself and taking up smoking. Should I have been congratulated then? Or should I be congratulated now for being a fatty who dances, plays soccer, does a little lounge room yoga with her girlfriend and eats her greens? How about you just don’t comment on my health or size AT ALL?

Some people do work hard to lose weight and, if they tell you about it, feel free to share their joy. But don’t let their experiences colour your assumptions about others. When you place value on size, you reinforce damaging ‘rules’ about what makes a person attractive. Making desirability about size reinforces the idea that to take up less space is better, that ‘shrinkage’ is an achievement.

This idea is so ingrained that it takes intellectual and emotional work to break down societal pressures to see thin as better, more beautiful, more successful. One way we can achieve this is to actively not comment on other people’s size. “You look stunning tonight” will suffice.

Maeve Marsden is a freelance writer, director, producer and performer. She performs in feminist cabaret act Lady Sings it Better, consults on education outreach campaigns, and collaborates on various creative projects. She tweets from @maevegobash.

7 Science-Backed Reasons Why Generosity Is Good For Your Health

June 21, 2015


Giving of yourself — whether it be your time, energy or money — isn’t just a boon to those you’re helping. A wealth of research shows that generosity can also have benefits for the receiver, ranging from a better outlook at your job, to more years of life. Check out these science-backed reasons to make generosity a regular part of your day.

It will keep stress in check.
Being stingy — and ashamed of said stinginess — is linked with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to a study from social psychologist Liz Dunn. Scientific American reported on the findings of the study, which examined cortisol levels in response to giving away money, and choosing to keep more money for yourself. The more money people chose to keep in the experiment, the greater shame they felt — and the higher their cortisol levels were. While some stress is good, chronically high levels of stress have been linked to a number of health ills.

Happiness at work depends on it.

Helping others while on the job could boost your happiness at work, according to research out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study, published in the journal American Review of Public Administration, showed that being altruistic not only improves well-being at work, but also makes people feel more committed to their work and less likely to quit. “More and more research illustrates the power of altruism,” study researcher Donald Moynihan, a professor in the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the university, said in a statement. “Our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: Helping others makes us happier. Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system.”

It’s beneficial to the greater good.
Generosity trumps selfishness when it comes to success in the long run, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that in a strategic game involving multiple people, being generous — where there is cooperation and everyone benefits from working together — led to more success than being selfish — where one person dominates the other, forcing them to receive a lower payoff. “You might think being generous would be a stupid thing to do, and it is if there are only two players in the game,” study researcher Alexander Stewart explained in a statement. “But, if there are many players and they all play generously, they all benefit from each other’s generosity.”

You’ll enjoy more years of life.

Researchers from the University of Buffalo found a link between giving and unselfishness and having a lower risk of early death. Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the findings show that helping others — whether it be by helping to run errands, watching their children or giving them a lift somewhere — is linked with a decreased mortality risk. “Our conclusion is that helping others reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality,” study researcher Michael J. Poulin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo, told PsychCentral.

It keeps the cycle of “good” going.
Thinking about the times you’ve given of yourself makes you feel selfless and want to help others, compared with thinking of the times you’ve been on the receiving end of things, according to a 2012 Psychological Science study. In other words, thinking about times you’ve helped others will then make you want to help others again — and what can be better than that?

Your marriage will be stronger.

Generosity is one of the key factors for a happy marriage, according to a 2011 report from the National Marriage Project. Elizabeth Marquardt, the associate editor of the report, told HuffPost Weddings that people “are happier in their marriages when they make a regular effort to serve their spouse in small ways — from making them a cup of coffee, to giving them a back rub after a long day, to going out of their way to be affectionate or forgiving.”

It promotes mental health.
Earlier this year, a huge review of 40 studies on the effect of volunteering on general health and happiness was published in the journal BMC Public Health. The results? Volunteering not only improves well-being and life satisfaction, but it’s also linked with decreased depression and a lower risk of dying early. “Since people reporting stronger social relationships have a reduced risk of mortality, the social aspects of volunteering may contribute to the observed survival differences,” the researchers wrote in the review. “Taken together, this review suggests that bio-social and cultural factors may influence both a willingness to engage in volunteering, as well as the benefits that might accrue.”

Article sourced from:

Over 50’s Fitness & Health by Glen Barnett – No Sweat in the Brain Gym

September 21, 2014

Research sourced from the American Academy of Neurology suggests that during later years, people who read books, played games, participated in computer activities and even did craft activities had a 30-50% decrease in their risk of developing memory loss compared to those who did not do those activities.
Here are some ideas for your own Brain Gym.
Explore new horizons, whether that be new environments, new books, new languages, new social groups or even new hobbies.  Get excited about the possibilities of increasing your wisdom and becoming a know all!

Learn a new physical skill.  Staying active will keep your heart pumping and let that oxygen rich blood surge around your body and fill your brain with much needed H20. Try a dance class, aerobics classes, Tai Chi, body boarding, trampolining or even juggling.

Practice doing two or three tasks at once.  (This one is probably a new concept for the men reading this article as women apparently do this their entire lives.)  Multi-tasking is like mental juggling and keeps those neurons firing.  If you’re having trouble with this one be warned you will be looking for trouble if you ask a woman to explain it to you.

Keep your memories alive.  Write your life story.  Open those memory pathways and draw those memories to the forefront of your mind.  Enjoy and relish your past.  Your family will love to read your history and maybe surprised and unaware of just what you got up to.

Sharpen your pencil as you sharpen your mind by regularly doing puzzle’s like Jumbled Words.  These are often regularly seen in magazines and newspapers.  The harder the puzzle the stronger your brain becomes when you solve it or try to solve it.

Switch hands. Make friends with your less dominant hand by doing simple tasks using it.  This will stimulate neural pathways with tasks that may be second nature with your dominant hand but a whole new ball game to your less dominant hand. Try brushing your teeth, switching your knife and fork or even writing.

Laugh. Laughing stimulates five different parts of your brain, so laugh often to help keep your brain from aging. Laughter Yoga workshops and classes are a great fun social way to get this integration happening.

So if you’ve been reading this article and already forgotten what it’s about then you might need to oxygenate your brain with some exercise and start creating your own Brain Gym today!  Call Glen at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 if you need a hand.

Ways Dads Influence Active Kids

September 7, 2014

It turns out that Dads have a lot of influence in how active their kids are.
Here are 7 great ways that Dads can make a big impact:

1. Be an active role model

A study titled “Influence of parents’ physical activity levels on activity levels of young children” found that children of active fathers are 3.5 times more likely to be active than children of inactive fathers. This is the perfect reason to try something new and to show your kids how committed you are to your own physical activity.

If you aren’t already active, you’ll soon see the impact on your entire family once you get moving yourself.

2. Encourage, encourage, encourage

If the kids know Dad is interested in what they are doing, they are more likely to keep it up. So dads, pay attention to your child’s activities. Notice when your son jumps rope 20 times in a row. Ask your daughter all about her Rally Cap game and what she liked about it. Watching your child, whether in an organized sport or in the backyard, shows that what they’re doing matters.

3. Play with your child

Playing with Dad not only gets kids active, but it helps them to regulate their emotions and develop their emotional intelligence, according to this Civitas article. If a child throws a tantrum while playing, Dad can address the issue with him. Children get on better with other children and become better suited for team environments – and life in general – if they understand their emotions and how to control them.

4. Roughhouse with your kids

Mom is typically the safe, nourishing parent, which allows Dad to be the unpredictable one. Roughhousing is good for kids for a number of reasons, as this Art of Manliness article points out. It improves your child’s resilience and helps them develop grit, rewires the brain for learning, helps build social intelligence, introduces respect for limits and boundaries, builds the father-child bond, and promotes physical activity. It also gives kids confidence to explore their environments and take risks, especially when Dad is by their side.

Don’t think this is just for boys, either – girls who roughhouse with their dads tend to have higher self-esteem and self-confidence, and are more prone to socialize during physical activity.

5. Get away with your child

The father-child – or family – getaway is a great way for children to get involved in a fresh batch of physical activities. My dad used to take me camping when I was a kid. We’d set up the tent. We’d walk down to the water station, fill up our thermoses and walk back. We’d hike through the bush.

Not only did this allow me to explore my surroundings as well as my physical capabilities, but Dad taught me about respecting the wilderness and all that lived within it. Instead of trying to hide the fact that there might be bears in the woods, he taught me what I’d need to do if I ever came across one.

The kind of life knowledge that fathers can impart during outings is invaluable.

6. Pass on your knowledge

Dads have had a lifetime of learning they can pass on to their children at different times – this is also true when it comes to physical activities. From a young age, my dad was teaching me how to throw a Frisbee, how to paddle the canoe properly (he gave me a kiddie paddle for my fifth birthday), how to fly a kite, and how to cast and reel the fishing rod. These are just a handful of things I learned from my dad when we were outside, playing and being active together, but they’re all things that still keep me active today.

7. Involve yourself

This Family Education article sites a study that followed a group of boys and girls for 26 years and examined the roles of both mothers and fathers in cultivating the child’s emotional health and empathy. The study found that the most influential factor in a child’s emotional health, by far, was how involved the father was in the child’s care. Children who have involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their physical surroundings, and have better social connections – all of which relate to physical literacy.

This article was sourced from:
About the Author: Tyler Laing
Tyler has been coaching and helping coach kids in soccer since he was little more than a kid himself. Now, thanks to Active for Life, he will have a better idea of how to raise a physically literate child when he has children of his own. Tyler provides content for Canadian Sport for Life, and holds a degree in writing with a journalism minor from the University of Victoria.

Humour Really is the Best Medicine

August 10, 2014

A good sense of humour is one of the most important tools in your self-care kit. In fact, studies show that laughter affects both your body and your mind.laugh

Laughter is also readily available, free, has no side effects, and you don’t have to worry about overdosing. Moreover, it’s good for everyone around you too. And laughter can relieve stress, boost your immune system and even change your perspective on things.

Stress relief. Laughter lowers your blood pressure and pulse rate and helps your muscles to relax. It counteracts your body’s stress response by lowering the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, adrenaline and dopamine. In addition, it releases “happy chemicals” in your brain, leaving you with a sense of well-being or even euphoria.

Increased immunity. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of killer T-cells. This means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects and immune suppression caused by stress.

Pain relief. Laughter increases the production of natural painkillers, thereby improving our tolerance to pain.

Muscle relaxation. Laughter exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterwards. It even provides a good workout for the heart. According to the late Dr Laurence Peter, author of The Peter Principle, the bigger the laugh, the lower the tension and the more long-lasting the relief.

Perspective. Humour gives us an entirely different perspective on our problems. By viewing a problem a little more light-heartedly, it becomes a challenge instead of a threat, and your body won’t react with a stress response. This gives us a sense of mastery and control over our environment, which helps us cope with adversity.

Distraction. Laughter diverts our attention away from our negative feelings like guilt, anger, and stress.

Improved social interaction. Laughter is contagious. If you laugh, people laugh with you, even if they don’t always know what you’re laughing about.  It connects us to those around us, and can even be used to ease interpersonal tension – crack a joke during your next heated argument and see the tension melt away.

How to lighten up

Raise your laughter level with the following strategies:

Surround yourself with humour. Watch a funny movie, read a humorous book or a comic, or listen to your favourite stand-up comedian. When you’re stressed at work, take ten minutes to read jokes on the Internet or listen to something silly on your iPod.

Laugh with a friend or colleague. People tend to laugh more in social situations, so share the funnies with a friend. It will strengthen your relationship and the contagious effects of laughter may mean you’ll laugh more than you otherwise would have.

Look for humour in everyday life. Why wait to “look back on it and laugh”? Find the humour in every situation, even the stressful and unpleasant ones, and enjoy a good giggle now.

Laugh at yourself. Poke fun at your own behaviour and idiosyncrasies. As the saying goes, “Laugh at yourself and the world laughs with you.”

Comedian Bill Cosby once said, “If you can laugh at it, you can survive it”. With the improved immune system, reduce stressed, better coping ability and positive attitude that comes with laughter, you can survive almost anything too.

The latest episode of the podcast “WTF With Marc Maron” features humor researcher (and friend of Science of Us) Peter McGraw, who was on with writer Joel Warner to discuss the book they wrote together called The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. Among the things they talked about in the interview is the cliché “laughter is the best medicine” — which is at least partially true, as clichés often are. Because a good sense of humor gives us a coping mechanism, which can help us withstand both mental and physical ills. McGraw explained more:

Humor’s this positive emotional experience, and there’s a good deal of evidence that positive emotions help buffer us from stresses and strains in life.

Another thing is that if you have a good sense of humor, it helps rally support. So when you’re in times of trouble, people won’t abandon you. If you’re funny … they wanna be around you. You’re not a downer, you’re not bumming them out all the time.

And then the last one, which I think is the most important one … is that the act of creating comedy from pain can fundamentally change the way you think about your pain. And so it can rob stress of its teeth.

Medicine, obviously, remains the best actual medicine. 

Articles sourced from: