Trick your stress

Coping with stress: Quick tricks

Have fun!

There are individuals who suffer from a condition that results in uncontrollable laughter. These people have damage in the part of the brain that controls laughter. Interestingly, the study of such individuals has taught us that laughter causes the release of substances that reduce our stress response!

Now that, is a stress-reduction technique we can all manage! Book a show in a comedy club, rent a DVD of a comedy show, read funny books, get together with friends and tell jokes or funny (and embarrassing) stories, have a tickle fight with your kids or your partner. This may sound juvenile and overly simple, partly because it is, but it works!

Have you ever noticed that when you are very tired after a long and stressful day there are times that the stupidest thing just gets you going? You get the giggles and just can’t seem to stop. Let yourself go! Your brain surely loves it and quite frankly it can use the reward.

The Power of Goodness

How did you feel when you saw people helping the victims of hurricane Katrina or the tsunami? How do you feel when you see a teenager get up from his/her seat on the bus and help an older adult to sit? Why are movies/books that deal with the triumphs of the human spirit (“feel good movies”) so touching and powerful?

It’s simple, because we are humans. Our ancestors did not only survive because of a healthy stress response, they survived because they formed strong social groups and helped each other. In fact, we have hormones circulating that ensure we continue to do so.

Mother Teresa had something to add to this. A group of researchers showed two groups of individuals either footage of Mother Teresa doing her work or a neutral film. They then measured the levels of types of immune cells that help to combat illness. The mere act of observing the ‘goodness’ present in the Mother Teresa film increased the participants’ immune response.

When viewing the film the brain is receiving a positive message. One that promotes affiliation, something all humans need. This type of positive image is very powerful and can also reduce the stress response.

Ok, we are not all Mother Teresa nor do we need to be. But there are several little things we can do in our daily lives that promote similar types of feelings, which in turn, will help decrease the stress response.