Written by Jessica Migala
To bring the funny to your life, you don’t even need to laugh out loud, says Dr. Hanna: “Just finding something funny or amusing can have the same benefits.”
Humor allows you to see things in a new and unexpected way, she explains. “It’s not about making difficult things funny or ignoring pain and suffering, but allowing ourselves to also see the lighter side of life more often as a way to release the tension and recharge our own battery.”
Given the year we’ve had, we could all gain from more moments of laughter right now, especially as we move into the uncertainty of winter. Here’s how to bring more giggles and chuckles into your every day.
1. Don’t Worry About Being ‘Funny’
The comedian Paul Osincup, who is the president of the AATH, says you don’t have to be a comedian to laugh more. “Humor is not a talent, it’s a habit,” he says. He suggests not worrying so much about being clever or funny, but instead get in the habit of seeing the humor in everyday situations. For example, if you spill your coffee, laugh about it with whomever you’re with. Here are two lines Osincup loves to use: “Now that I have your attention …” or “It’s just half and half: Half on the table, half on my lap.”
“Everything in life can be drama, horror, or comedy. How often are you looking at it as a comedy?” he says. A good place to start: Laugh, laugh, laugh. If you find something funny, don’t hold back and simply smile to yourself, but push out an audible “Ha ha!” This might feel fake at first, but after a while, you’ll release and laugh naturally more often and louder than before, he says. “The more you play with humor, you’ll get better and better at it.”
2. Curate Your Comedy Collection
“Doomscrolling” — a trendy name for the tendency to consume endless negative news — may be a habit you’ve adopted as of late, but you can change that habit. Instead, surround yourself with more humorous content.
Osincup suggests going on social media and following and liking as many pages as possible that make you laugh, “so humor will show up more often in your feeds.”
3. Take a Laugh Break
Set an alarm on your phone for a “fun break,” advises Osincup. Research in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Business and Psychology found that a well-planned 15-minute break for humor can bolster productivity, he says.
Start off with five minutes, Osincup recommends. Watch or read something funny (like a video on YouTube, quick clip of something from late-night TV or funny article) and then set a second alarm that cues you to go back to work. And this 5 Recommended jokes to cheer up and makes you smile.
4. Try the ‘3 Funny Things’ Exercise
You’ve heard of the power of a gratitude journal, in which you write down three (or more) good things that happened that day. A humor journal might be just as impactful. Osincup points to a study published in May 2018 in Frontiers in Psychology that found that people who, at the end of the day, reflected and wrote down three amusing things that happened in the day for one week decreased depression symptoms and increased overall happiness for up to six months. “A humor journal trains you to see humor in real time,” he says.
5. Tap Laughter to Learn More
Humor can foster learning by building an emotional connection that strengthens memory, and therefore can help you understand and retain information. The stress hormone cortisol damages the area in the brain that plays a role in learning and memory (the hippocampus). But laughter — a powerful antidote to stress — helps repair that damage and makes it easier to form new memories, according to research published in the Spring 2014 issue of Advances in Mind-Body Medicine.
“Laughter is a language we all recognize, and we feel connected when we smile and laugh,” says the Michigan State University professor Stephen E. DiCarlo, PhD, who coauthored a July 2017 Advances in Physiology Education review on why laughing helps when it comes to learning and health.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Lighten Up
“While I’m a serious person and take what I do seriously, I try not to take myself seriously. I think it’s critical to be able to laugh at yourself,” Ashton writes in her book. Laughing at yourself helps you put mistakes in perspective, deal with hardships, and move past misfortunes, she explains.
Teach yourself to do that with the “What I Should Have Said” game, suggests Osincup. When something happens that’s mildly stressful and you react by being short with someone or stressed out, reflect on how you could have handled that with more humor or lightheartedness. “This trains your brain to see the humor in difficult situations, and it teaches you to let go of some of your stress,” he says.
Written by Dr. Stephen Barrie
Family stress. Work Stress. COVID and Health Stress. Daily Life Stress.
“Stress” is impossible to avoid. Then, the key is how to manage and transform the stress. Stress is manageable, and you can stop the cycle of chronic stress with just minor changes in your lifestyle. As you improve your ability to transform stress, you will strengthen your energy resources, lower the risk of chronic disease, and support healthy aging.
When you are under stress, the levels of a hormone called “Cortisol” start to rise in your blood. Over time, chronic stress results in higher-than-normal cortisol levels create problems with your metabolism, causing weight gain (particularly around your middle) and triggering dangerous inflammation inside your body. It can affect your blood sugar levels, blood pressure and heart function, and even your memory. Chronic stress can cause obesity, diabetes, anxiety and depression, dementia, high blood pressure, asthma, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems.
Not all stress is bad. Stress is necessary and often reasonable, and our bodies can handle some stress, some of the time. Still, when we are under a lot of stress all the time, then our bodies break down by failing to return to that place of balance and rest.
If stress will be a part of our lives, how can we manage it healthfully?
We will want to incorporate simple techniques into our daily and weekly lives.
Following is a list of suggestions that have been proven to work!
And yes, that sounds like the Mediterranean diet – this is great for overall health and wellness.
To help reduce stress, we want to eat foods that help lower our cortisol levels. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, cortisol is the stress hormone. When present for a long time, it leads to inflammation and chronic diseases. Managing stress (as above) is the number one treatment for lowering cortisol levels. And the best way from a diet perspective is to focus on an anti-inflammatory diet. The goal is to eat foods that reduce inflammation in your body, thus reducing cortisol levels. Here is a list of suggestions:
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acid
These foods reduce inflammation.
Magnesium is hugely beneficial in reducing inflammation, metabolizing cortisol, and relaxing the body and mind.
“Foods such as lean meat, fish, poultry, beans, and legumes promote balanced blood sugar levels,” Barth says. Specifics include:
Seventy to 80% of our immune system relies on our gut, so if we correct our gut, we repair a lot of our immunity.
The key to managing and lowering stress is an integrative whole-body approach – mental and physical. Relaxation techniques, exercise, and a healthy diet will get you on your way to reduce the harmful effects of stress in your daily lives.
Written by Dr. Stephen Barrie
As you get older do you want to continue your abilities to remember, think, reason, communicate and solve problems? These are your “cognitive abilities” and are part of a healthy brain function.
Most people as they age start to have reduced cognitive function – they don’t remember as well, think, and reason slower and have problems communicating with others.
Engaging in healthy behaviors during our middle life years is an important factor in supporting a healthy brain later in life. Healthy behaviors include such lifestyle habits as diet/nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, and stress reduction.
Research from three recent studies concluded that spending moderate to high amounts of time watching television (on TV screens or computer screens) throughout midlife years was linked to greater cognitive decline! The gray matter in the brains of people who watched a lot of TV in midlife actually atrophied (shrank) getting smaller as they age! Gray matter is the darker tissue of the brain that is involved in seeing, hearing, decision making, and other important brain functions. The more gray matter you have in your brain, the better it functions.
The studies showed a direct correlation between the amount of TV watching and brain function – the more TV people watched, the faster their brains lost function as they got older. This loss of function led to an increase in dementia (loss of ability to perform everyday normal tasks).
It is important to understand that in the context of brain and cognitive health, not all inactive activities are equal. Non-brain stimulating activities such as television viewing are linked to a greater risk of developing brain function impairment, whereas sedentary brain-stimulating activities such as reading, computer, and board games, are associated with maintaining good brain function.
Therefore, one of the first things you can do to safeguard your brain function as you age is:
Reduce the amount of television that you watch
What else can you do to keep your brain young and healthy?
Today let’s discuss in a little more detail what is considered a “brain-healthy” diet.
In general, this healthy diet is plant-rich, high-fiber, high in leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables (raw and cooked), high in unsaturated fats (such as olive oil and avocados) with a fasting period of 12 to 16 hours per night. The food should be organic when possible and avoids processed foods. Wild-caught low mercury fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring) should be consumed regularly. Dairy and simple carbohydrate foods should be minimized.
The diet that research has shown to be the most effective in slowing down the aging of the brain is called the “MIND” diet. MIND is a hybrid of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet. The MIND diet focuses on the intake of plant-based foods and limits the intake of animal products and foods high in saturated fat. The emphasis is on plants, and what’s noteworthy is that this diet specifically urges a higher consumption of berries (blueberries and blackberries) and green leafy vegetables. This diet lowers inflammation and oxidative stress – two main factors associated with lowered brain function.
One recent study showed that people who followed this diet had the brain function of a person 7.5 years younger! Another reported that people in their 80s who adopted this diet had brain functions as if they were 20 years younger!
Foods to Eat on the MIND Diet
Foods to Limit on the MIND Diet
What are you waiting for? Hide that TV remote and start your healthy diet Today – your brain will get younger and younger.
MIND Diet Breakfast Ideas
MIND Diet Lunch Ideas
MIND Diet Dinner Ideas
MIND Diet Snack Ideas