"Practice smiling more. Look at others and in the mirror. See what reaction you get. My hope is its contagious." - jessica nickels
In a recent lunch and learn series at a worksite, I covered the topic popular stress. In this specific session, I discuss how humor can help reduce stress!
Bad news, one in three of us deal with worry, stress or pain on daily basis. Good news, about 71% of us smile or laugh on a daily basis. How does this news connect? It shows us that even though we are exposed to negative emotion and experience, we are also experiencing positivity. Science supports a 5 to 1 ratio. Meaning it takes 5 positive experiences to outweigh 1 negative experience. The best news is that these experience do not have to be extravagant, like a vacation (though that would be nice).
Today we are going to explore 3 simple and positive solutions to adding more smiles and laughs to our our day.
1. Expose yourself to positivity more.
Practical application, ask yourself these questions:
2. Seek out the humor in the moment.
Our brain is sensitive to negative experiences. It goes back to the day when we had to be alert of the big harry mammoth or other life threats. When we had to be alert of all threats to our being. Our brain really hasn’t changed and reacts just the same. Instead, the big harry mammoth is a stressful email from your boss. However, today we have the knowledge to change our perspective and reaction.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a goal to be healthier and to you. that means exercising more. It’s Monday night and you get to the gym and the parking lot is packed. Your immediate reaction is “OMG I can’t find a parking spot!” (harry mammoth).
This is when you hit the pause button and ask yourself, "What is funny about this?" The reality is there are several spots in the back of the lot open, but you don’t want to walk to get to your workout. Put simply, you don’t want to exercise before you exercise. That’s funny!
Give it a try yourself and complete this chart.
What are some chronic threats that cause you think negatively?
Is there humor in those threats? If so, what is it?
3. Fake it until your brain makes it.
The muscles in our face send a message to our brain to release the hormone endorphin, which helps make us feel good and reduce stress hormones like cortisol. Smiling also makes us more desirable to be around, which attracts fun people! Practice smiling more. Look at others and in the mirror. See what reaction you get. My hope is it’s contagious.
Like any change, this takes practice to build into a daily habit. Remember, this should be a positive experience, so if seeking smiles and laughs is stressful, ask for help!
Interested in bringing the Stress Series to your worksite? Contact me to set it up!
Jessica Nickels, Counseling Intern
Expectations can lead to disappointment. What we often fail to do is live life in the middle of it. We are so focused on the end goal that we MISS the life! - ROBIN HELGET
Our realities are formed by the thoughts of how life should be in our head.
The thoughts in our head can make or break us. For years, many of my clients and practically everyone I've had an honest conversation with, have struggled with something I call the “inner critic” or for some, “inner demons”. This critic is the voice that tells you how things could be better, creates expectations of how life or circumstances should be, or tells you that you are consistently missing the mark. It tells you that you can’t yet rest or be happy because you have to get “there” first--wherever “there” may be.
This critic is often a primary player in depression, anxiety, and trauma. If we listen to it long enough, the words of the critic start to become our truth. We believe what the critic tells us so much that we become unsatisfied with our lives and constantly beat ourselves up for making small mistakes, eating the cookie, yelling at our kids, or snapping at our significant others.
Have you ever been really excited about something? Something that you have been looking forward to for a long time? Maybe it was an event, a date, seeing a person or saving and buying an item. Or, maybe it was getting married, buying a house, having a baby. You created so much hype around this particular thing, envisioning what it would be like, how you would feel, and what you maybe would say. However, you quickly found yourself disappointed or frustrated. This was going to make you so happy! So why do you feel worse than you did before?
Expectations can lead to disappointment. What we often fail to do is live life in the middle of it. We are so focused on the end goal: of the event, of the day, of the baby, of the man, of the marriage, of the house, of the job, of the life--that we MISS the life! Focusing on the destination often leads to lack of fulfillment. Why?
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Therapist & Coach
“Without the human community, one single human being cannot survive.” -Dalai Lama
In modern times, frightfully, we have the ability to go through an entire day without actually interacting face to face with another human. We can work remotely, get our groceries delivered, pay someone to pick up our laundry off of our front step and can text our friends and family members instead of inviting them over. We have all struggled with staying connected in a world that facilitates disconnection- scrolling on our phones when out with friends, not saying hello to our neighbors and forgetting to call our family members on their birthdays. Sometimes our days are too hectic or packed too full of to-do’s to stay connected, but as our autonomy increases our human connection decreases and we oftentimes find ourselves isolated and lonely.
Loneliness not only makes us feel blue, it can also shorten our lifespan. According to Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General to the US, weak social connections and loneliness can reduce a persons lifespan at the same rate as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Murthy also stated that, “During (his) years caring for patients, the most common pathology (he) saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”
The antidote for loneliness is clear: its connection, real life, face to face, genuine connection. And not just connecting with anyone who is around but connecting with your “tribe”. Your tribe is a group of people who you have carefully picked to be a part of the intimate parts of your life, the people who support you and whom you support. They may or may not be your family, your neighbors, your high school friend or your co-workers.
Below are some steps to cultivating and maintaining your tribe:
Amber Reed, LSCSW, LMAC