As women we try to juggle a thousand different balls all at one time. Not only are we pretty darn good at multi-tasking, many of us actually make it look easy! Managing a high-powered job, trying to get pregnant, getting the kids to each and every event on time, putting a healthy meal on the table each evening, volunteering for great causes, and making sure that our significant other isn’t forgotten in the mix, are just a sampling of our busy lives.
And while doing great things is GREAT, too many balls in the air often leads to high levels of STRESS! Most of us brush off stress as a “normal” part of life. In reality, consistent stress is incredibly unhealthy for our bodies, particularly our immune systems. The immune system is our first line of defense, second line of defense, and backup defense! Without a strong immune system we are more susceptible to infections and diseases.
Since we are all so busy (with no slowing down in sight), I will get straight to the point with a simple way to reduce stress and, thus, boost your immune system. Actually, you can start right now! Laugh! Yes, Laugh! Start to smile, and then let it loose! Not only is laughter medicine for the soul, it is an easy way to reduce stress and strengthen your immune system. You may think I’m a quack doctor, but I’ve got evidence to support my prescription for LAUGHTER!
1. Laughter makes you feel good-not only does laughing force you to breathe in extra oxygen (which makes your organs happy) it also stimulates the release of endorphins (the same feel good chemicals that are released with exercise). In general, laughter can help you form a happier, more satisfied disposition. It may even give you better coping skills in stressful situations.
2. Laughter relieves stress by causing physiologic changes in your blood pressure and your heart rate. Yes, laughter is an emotional response, but it is also physical! By increasing the circulation/blood flow to your muscles, laughter can loosen a tense neck or shoulders, leading to a more relaxed and less stressed state.
3. Laughter may also be one of the keys to a healthy immune system. Positive thoughts actually stimulate the release of neurotransmitters (chemicals released by the nervous system) that are powerful influencers that strengthen our immune systems. So there really is something to the power of positive thinking…it can reduce stress and boost your immune system. Maybe seeing the glass half-full is a perspective we should all adopt!
4. Skip the Tylenol and start laughing! Laughter actually stimulates the body to produce chemicals that act as natural pain killers. Laughter is specifically great medicine for muscle cramps or spasms, because it can interrupt the muscle spasm cycle.
If you start to feel your shoulders tensing, your head spinning, or negativity overshadowing your day…LAUGH! Let go of the stress, and power up your immune system. We’re all busy, but we’ve all got time for a good laugh. Tell a joke. Think about something funny, or simply force a smile and then laugh. You may even want to put a reminder sign at your desk, by your computer, or on your fridge, “A laugh a day to keep the doctor away!” Stay tuned for more healthy ways to relieve stress and boost your immune system, and leave a comment with ways that you handle stress. Is laughter one of them?
From The Mom in Me, MD