When Should You Dance Like Gene Kelly?

When It Rains, DanceA child laughs around 300 times a day; an adult, just fifteen.  That is a shocking fact!  And it may go at least some way to explaining why we all feel so much more stress as we grow older.


Stress is a killer.  It is linked to heart disease, stroke and is implicated as a contributory factor in cancer, Alzheimer’s and other serious illnesses.  Yet one stress buster is so easily available. 


Laughter.


Laughter is a natural antidote to stress because in the moment when you are laughing, your brain experiences a natural boost of feel good endorphins, which help give you a more optimistic outlook and act to reduce your stress hormone levels. You physically relax and that improves your mood still further.


Happy people laugh more.  People who laugh more are happier.  It is a self fulfilling cycle.  And just as your experience of stress is what you perceive it to be, so happiness is largely a decision.  You can just decide to be happy. 


 “If you want to be happy, be” (Leo Tolstoy)


So why is it that more people do not make the most of this natural form of stress relief?  Have adults simply forgotten how to laugh?


One of my own theories is that, unless sullied by adults, children look for the good in the world.  They look for fun and seek delight.  They enjoy the moment and laugh at the smallest thing.  And they make others happy too.


“Whoever is happy will make others happy too” (Anne Frank)


And yet as people grow older, they see more of the world that dismays them.  They stop looking for the good in everything.  They stop living in the moment and start living a “jam tomorrow lifestyle.”  They become sarcastic and critical.  They live as if it is a crime to be happy.


If you have fallen into this rut, and who has not from time to time, recognise that you are in a rut.  It is not always easy to climb out and become happier because that means you have to change your mindset.  But if you want to be happier, laugh more and be less stressed, changing your mindset is exactly what you have to do.  So decide to do it.


Start small.  Be grateful for what you have in life.  Tell your loved ones that you love them.  Download my free ebook.  Smile.  And next time you get caught in the rain, do not frown.  Dance like Gene Kelly.


Don’t Lose Sleep Over Stress

How is it that we can face the stress of phones ringing nonstop, car horns blaring, rude clerks, fussy children, irritating neighbours, loud noise pollution and so on without going totally over the edge?

In truth these stresses should send us over the edge but they don’t because at the end of the day our bodies relax, unwind and we sleep.  Sleep is an essential stress buster which helps erase the day’s troubles and stresses.

So, sleep isn’t just something we probably all look forward to at the end of the day (certainly twin parents do!), but it is actually a critical part of the body’s regeneration process, central to our mental and physical well being.  Even if you’ve never made this connection before, I’m sure you’ll have seen some spy film or other where the hero gets tortured using sleep deprivation?

The body considers not enough sleep to be so serious it is torture!

Stress takes its toll on all of our body’s systems.  The heart, the adrenals, the liver, and the brain all suffer the consequences.  All these organs get bombarded relentlessly throughout the day with messages and chemical signals.  If we’ve had a particularly stressful day, at the end of it our stress hormone levels are sky high.  We feel tense and exhausted.  We need sleep.

And this is critical.  During deep sleep our body has a chance to “catch up” and heal.  There is finally time to rebalance our stress hormone levels, and time to repair any damage done to the body’s systems due to overexertion.

Our body must get a minimum of 6 hours to get the needed downtime to do this repair.  However, many stress experts now think that anything less than 8 hours on a regular basis is stressful for the body. 

But the problem some of us have is that the stress has us so strung out during the day that come bedtime, we have a hard time “letting go” and falling asleep. 

If you have a problem falling asleep that doesn’t go away after a few nights, you need to get help.  If you can’t get in touch with your doctor (or fear the stigma if anyone at works finds out you’re taking sleeping pills), try Sandman.  It’s a program I use whenever I need it.  It may not suit everyone but at least the trial is free so you can find out!  All you need is a pair of headphones, or the ear bud mics from your MP3 player. 

Whatever you do, take sleep seriously.  If you let yourself get too run down, your stress levels will soar, sleep will be even harder to come by and you will set yourself up for serious health repercussions.

Don’t stress out, sleep well.