"Laughter is free, legal, has no calories, no cholesterol, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, and is
absolutely safe." Dale Irvin
Between the home and office, I was running ragged. My friend Sandy, who had been patiently listening
to me complain about the housework piling up, suggested I shouldn't let the stress of it all get me
down. Grinning, she added, "I would let the mess build up, call the police, report a burglary, and let
them come and dust for fingerprints." Her "joke" had us both laughing and the housework no longer
seem so overwhelming.
Research shows the way we handle stress impacts everything in our lives from our relationships to our
health. It has been connected to, among other things, heart disease, chronic fatigue, and low
self-esteem. "During menopause it is important we learn to recognize the different stresses in our
lives," says Karen Nash, director and lead trainer of Nash Associates, a motivational training firm, "We
need to be more in touch with ourselves, and recognize how much stress we can deal with
comfortably. The next step is to be assertive and say, 'this is too much for me now, I need to put that
off to do this.' The final step is the follow through."
According to Karen, humor helps in re-claiming ourselves and promotes a healthier lifestyle. Laughter
is medicine for the soul. It oxygenates the system, stimulates endorphins, and promotes T-cell
production. It exercises 15 muscles in the face, releases tension, and increases communication. By
using humor and laughter in our daily lives, we can balance our stress levels and reward our physical,
mental, and spiritual selves. But, like any other skill, humor takes practice to master.
Karen offered several tips:
* Re-frame your thinking. Don't look at stresses in the same frame of mind. Next time you are in a
traffic jam, try to view your life as a situation comedy, or just ask yourself, "Okay, when does the fun
* Put humor into strategic places in your life. A sign on your desk which reads "It is hard to be a
Monday person in a Friday world", or make a point to say the worst joke of the day three times to
remember it, then share it. Pin up funny cartoons near your computer or workspace, send others to
* Look around for humor. Spend some time browsing through the humorous card section at the store.
Watch a sitcom you especially enjoy. Read the newspapers, church bulletin, or newsletters for slips of
the pen. Look for humor in road signs.
* Don't take life too seriously. Fly a kite. Take a walk. When you make a mistake, say "Now I'm
smarter." Share a smile. Karen says, "Attitude is everything. If you realize the power of your own
attitude and your thoughts over your behavior ... you'll really appreciate how important humor is."
Copyright 1996 by Patricia Older - Reprinted with permission
Write to Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.
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