The Well

Archive for August, 2010

Laugh Out Loud

by Andrew Shaw on Aug.28, 2010, under Recent Posts

When’s the last time you laughed really hard?  I’m talking the uninhibited, laugh-out-loud, knee-slapping, eyes-watering, gasping-for-air, laughing.  I had a couple instances this past week where I just got rolling, once at home with a group of friends and the other today with several coworkers.  And boy did it feel great!  It felt like my whole body was smiling and laughing.  During these spells of laughter, and for quite awhile afterwards, I felt such a lightness, a sense of enjoyment and happiness.

Research has been showing what we already know, laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, depression, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor energizes, lightens your burdens, connects you to others, and makes you feel joyful and alive.

Laughter is a natural, innate part of life. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born.  If you’ve drifted away from your childlike playfulness, if it has been awhile since you’ve really let go into unbridled laughter, or if you’ve misplaced your smile, here are some ideas to get you back on the laughing track.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, just as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you may be able to incorporate humor and laughter into your daily life.

  • Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious.  When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.  Practice smiling for no reason at all many times during the day and see how it affects your mood.  It’s hard to feel down or grumpy when you’ve got a smile on your face.
  • Count your blessings. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When in a state of sadness, we have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
  • Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
  • Create opportunities to laugh. Watch a funny movie or TV show. Go to a comedy club. Read the funny pages. Seek out funny people. Share a good joke or a funny story. Host game night with friends. Go to a “laughter yoga” class. Spend time with children. Do something silly. Make time for fun, light-hearted activities.

 

Happy Laughing.  Be Well.

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Grounded In Nature

by Andrew Shaw on Aug.13, 2010, under Recent Posts

A Deep Well

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.” — Anne Frank.

I mentioned yesterday that I recently returned from traveling in the Pacific Northwest.  What beautiful country!  So many trees.  So much green.  Fresh air and open space.  For someone who has lived in L.A. most of his life, it was a wonderfully different environment to experience.  During the few weeks we spent in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, we were outdoors most of the time.  There’s no doubt, you just feel better immersed in, and connected to, nature. 

Don’t take only my word for it.  Researchers in the British Medical Journalfound that contact with nature improves health and wellbeing.  People who regularly get outdoors and into nature report subjective health benefits, reduced stress, improvements in their quality of life, and a deeper sense of being a part of something greater.  Another study has shown that when you spend more time out in nature, you feel more alive.  Published in a recent issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the study shows that getting out and communing with nature is better for feeling rejuvenated than reaching for the urban cup of coffee. “Nature is fuel for the soul,” says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. It is important for both mental and physical health. “Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings” says Ryan.  Not only is nature good for your health and wellbeing, it makes you a kinder, gentler, more selfless person as well.   Studies, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that immersion in nature brings individuals closer to others and fosters altruism along with feelings of interconnectedness.

Intuitively, we already know these things to be true.  But if it has been some time since you’ve really been out in nature, try it yourself as your own experiment.  Go outdoors this weekend.  Find a place in nature that allows you to disconnect from the hectic pace and the city buzz.  Be amongst the trees, the mountains, the water, the sky.  Let yourself be surrounded and feel in-touch with the natural world for awhile.  Be present, awaken your senses and absorb it fully.  And remember to notice how you feel during and afterwards. 

Be Well

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Return From Hiatus

by Andrew Shaw on Aug.12, 2010, under Recent Posts

Recently back from travels through the Pacific Northwest, I’m excited to return here to blogging on The WeeklyWell.  I hope all is well with you, and to any regular readers, thanks for your patience during this break.  It’s hard to believe this project of writing about wellness started a year ago.  I look forward to another year of sharing thoughts, ideas, tips and techniques for cultivating health and happiness.  I hope you will visit often, find it helpful, and share it with others who may also be interested. 

More words to follow!

Be Well

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