Natural Stress Relief

stressEditor’s Letter 
by Pat den Boer

The best laughs are the big ones. I’m not talking about polite chuckling when someone makes a joke. But the deep stomach, soul-stirring, hardy laughs that come from someone who has temporarily been swept away with the moment. I’m talking about laughing so hard that there’s no sound at all.

When we lose ourselves in the moment, we are free of worries; free of the every day. Laughing is indeed the best medicine and it’s important to surround ourselves with people who make us happy and carefree.

My father was that kind of person.There’s a picture of him on my mantle doing a really hardy laugh. His face says it all, and I keep it there not only as a reminder of him, but of what I sometimes forget to do in my own life — have fun and just laugh at the world.

Whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on television or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke.

A good sense of humour can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the benefits of laughter.A good laugh has great short-term effects.When you start to laugh,it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. According to Mayo Clinic — a medical research group — laughter can:
– stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles and increases the endorphins released by your brain;
– activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response. It can also increase your heart rate and blood pressure.The result is a calm, relaxed feeling; and
– soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

The self-help section in most bookstores is the largest.You can find a variety of literature on how to make yourself feel good, slim, happy, healthy and wise. But in the end, there is nothing better than the good ol’ fashion sensation that laughing with friends or family members will do for your soul.

It’s your time, your moment and your memories. Don’t waste them worrying about the small stuff. Find big laughter — the kind that will relieve your stress naturally.