May is Mental Health Month – Laughing the stress away

I’m taking the time from my usual topic areas to talk about mental health.  May is Mental Health Month.  As a staffer working for an association representing mental health professionals, it’s important for me to bring this issue to your attention.  We’re all working towards a healthier lifestyle.  We’re exercising.  We’re trying to eat right.  However, what are we doing to manage our stress?  Are we dealing with it or just wishing it away? 

Chronic stress can affect your physical and mental health by causing a variety of problems including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.  A 2009 poll by the American Psychological Association (my fab association) found that 75 percent of adults report experiencing moderate to high levels of stress and nearly half report that their stress has increased in the past year.  Take a look around your office and realize that over half of your colleagues are probably very stressed at the moment. 

One of the ways I handle stress is to laugh.  Everyday, I find something that to laugh at, whether it’s a funny podcast (I highly recommend the Mike O’Meara Show available as an app or via iTunes) or having a great conversation with a friend.  Whenever I feel stress creeping up on me, I remember a funny situation or my favorite episode of The Simpsons and I can feel the anxiety and tension melt away.  Laughter can really be the best medicine. 

How do you manage stress?  Are you even doing anything about it?  I have one request for anyone reading this and feeling overwhelmed by life’s challenges.   Think of the funniest thing you’ve witness either yourself or someone else do and let out a nice, hardy laugh.  Trust me, you’re feel better immediately.

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2 thoughts on “May is Mental Health Month – Laughing the stress away

  1. Yoga is my stress-busting secret. It’s made me more aware of my reactions, including feeling stressed and the feelings that lead to stress, and more able to choose my reactions to a situation. It’s taught me the value of breathing. I know we always hear advice to breathe when stressed, but it truly works — deeply through the nose in a steady rhythm. A lot of stress is produced by reworking the past and worrying about the future; yoga helps me stay in the present.

    And silly goofy laughter is even better.

    I believe there is a lot of stress in the association industry, heck, I know it. I was way too tightly wound at times. Too many jobs to do, so much left undone or not even started, not enough time or money, so many expectations from so many people, yikes. I’ve thought about writing about this too so I’m glad you brought it up.

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