"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