Friday, February 18, 2011

If You Only Do One Healthy Thing Today, Do This: Laugh!

Thanks to Glamour Magazine's Blog Vitamin G writer Lexi Patronis for giving us permission, nay, giving us good reason to laugh every day!  Now I don't feel bad for choosing comedies over dramas every time!

Laughing doesn't just feel good--it's actually good for you. And we're talking real laughs here, too, not that fabricated chuckle you whip out for awkward dates or meetings with the higher-ups (sorry, boss!). Take a look...
According to at least one study, laughing is good for your heart. This study measured the blood flow of people who'd watched a comedy and a drama. Watching the comedy increased participants' blood flow by 22% (about the same as a 15-minute workout).
And other research has suggested that laughter helps you sleep better, relax more, keeps you from getting sick, and lowers your blood sugar. So there's really no good reason not to laugh.
Need help getting giggly?  
Check out this nostalgic and entertaining Jazzercise video starring Judi Sheppard Missett, the founder of Jazzercise.  Jazzercise is still thriving, but has evolved over the years to be more "current".   What do you think--should we try this next week in TRX circuit class?   
Do you have any favorite "go-tos" when you need a laugh?  Please share in the comments if you do!

I also loved this article from Psychology Today writer Joanne Stern, Ph.D. about talking to your kids about what made them laugh each day:

A mom recently told me that her favorite question to ask her kids when they come home from school is, "What made you laugh today?" I thought it was brilliant. First of all, it's a terrific, creative conversation starter. It sparks kids' imagination and takes the focus and pressure off their performance for that day. Secondly, it makes kids scroll back through their day and pull out what was cool and special. That's much more fun than telling you about yet one more math class, art project or recess game. And, thirdly, it helps establish a habit of thinking positively and looking on the bright side of things.

Laughter is a wonderful concept to use with your kids-in connecting with them, in building strong relationships, and sometimes even in discipline.
How about applying the principle of laughter to yourself? Here are five reasons to insert laughter into your own life on a daily basis.
1. Laughter connects you to the positive side of life and to your own creativity. Think about it: Your reality is not actually what is, but how you perceive and hold what is. When you're negative, you're more likely to stay stuck in the same old, same old. But when you allow positivity to wash over you, you'll tend to find alternative, better options for dealing with challenges and achieving success. It boils down to this: when you laugh, you get more out of life.
2. Laughter makes you more fun to be with. I'll bet your spouse prefers you with a smile rather than a frown. Friends enjoy you more when you're upbeat. And kids love a happy parent. They're willing to put up with seriousness for a while, but they sparkle and come to life when you're fun. This doesn't mean that you should be fake or inauthentic. But it does mean you should be on the lookout for anything-even the smallest thing-that will put a smile on your lips and a delight in your heart.
3. Laughter allows you to enjoy your kids more. If you carry your burdens with you all day and hold them front and center, you don't even notice the adorable behaviors of your kids because you're too self-absorbed. When they say something cute and funny, it passes right over you and you miss the opportunity to connect with them in their world. They grow up so fast, and your time with them at each age and phase of their live is short. When you find the humor in their antics-whether they're toddlers throwing their veggies on the floor or teenagers trying to manipulate you into loaning them the car-it helps melt away your frustration and see your kids for the unique and precious people they are. A young mom told me that every night as she and her husband are getting ready for bed, they ask each other what was the favorite thing their toddler did that day. That question immediately thrusts them into the joy they receive from their child and provides a fantastic way to share a chuckle.
4. Laughter puts life into perspective. We tend to take ourselves, our work and our families all too seriously. Focusing on our problems doesn't help in solving them. It only gets us off kilter. Laughter restores our equilibrium. It doesn't eliminate the challenges, the responsibilities or the hard work required to create success at home or at work. But it's a breather that lightens the load. It's like a reset button to take us back to a more balanced place so we can start again with a renewed energy and a fresh spirit.
5. And, of course, laughter relieves stress. You can actually feel the layers of tension peel off when you laugh. We've known for years that laughter is truly the best medicine in the world. It boosts the immune system, re-energizes the body, diminishes pain and revitalizes the spirit. And, best of all, this medicine doesn't taste bad, has no negative side-effects and costs nothing.
There's power in laughter-healing power, restorative power, rejuvenating power. And it's fun. Now we only need to remind ourselves to laugh more.
For more parenting tips, check out my book, "Parenting Is a Contact Sport: 8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Kids for Life."

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