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.


Marble-ous Stress Relief

You need to grab stress relief wherever you can and in whatever form you can.  I’ve found a fantastic form of stress relief in the most unlikely place!

I have long thought that people, parents and non-parents alike, can be very cruel to their friends in the choice of gifts they give to their friend’s children.  I don’t know why people do this, maybe it’s to make their friends suffer?  They seem to delight in giving the noisiest and most inappropriate toys possible!  Anyway, my friends are no exception.  Although, I didn’t realise quite how much I’d upset them over the year…!

This year we asked Santa to bring all manner of clothes, dressing up costumes, Playmobil and DVDs.  The list of things that were actually wanted and needed was extensive.  And whilst they did get a huge amount of “good presents” and stuff they wanted, the kids were still gifted numerous felt tipped pens, crayons, chocolate (how much can one child eat?), toy shooting guns with fireable discs (WHY?!!), inflatable objects to bash people with (PLEASE, I’ve got spirited twin boys who improvise enough  – they don’t need more weapons to hit each other over the head with), bath goo, and inflatable bubbles you can stand inside (“suitable from age 10”!).  

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but my two can be hard enough work without giving them more ideas!

Anyway, in amongst all this stuff was a fantastic stress relief toy.  It masquerades as a construction kit but it is so much more!  Called Marb-ulous, it is basically a set of curved and straight plastic tracks, building blocks, trick wheels etc that you link together to form a 3D track for marbles.  This is fantastic fun!  And more so for the adults than even the children!  And it doesn’t matter when the kids/dogs destroy it as most of the fun is in the construction!

You can build up to 4 entry points for the marbles and four collection points.  And if you try to use every piece of track, and make all four tracks go to one collection point, and make the whole thing as stable as possible by cross-linking the tracks, it can take an absorbing and happy couple of hours – and the fun we have had running marble races with the children is untold!  When I first saw this present, all I could see was “220 pieces, 20 marbles” – and immediately stressed out about just how long it would be before all that got lost!

And some of it probably will get lost (we’re already down to 15 marbles).  But think of the laughter and fun (excellent natural stress relievers) we’ll all have before that happens!

Never underestimate how much stress relief you can get from the most unlikely sources!  And try not to make snap decisions about what will stress you out.  It may just relieve stress!  I’ve certainly learnt my lesson!