THE BLOG

Laugh Out Loud!

02/07/2014 12:11 BST | Updated 31/08/2014 10:59 BST

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American poet, memoirist, actress Dr Maya Angelou said "I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh'' She also said "Change the things you can and change your attitude about the things you can't!"

An important figure in the civil rights movement she died last month at the age of 86. Many of Generation Y has probably not heard of her but if you delve into her past you will find a phenomenal lady who was exceptional and paved the way for many other people and more importantly she lived life!

Women such as Maya Angelou are inspirational, they conduct life via the heart, they live life to the full and yes I'm sure there were times in her life when she was stressed but without a doubt she would have laughed, she would have conducted life head on.

So how do you cope, how do you beat stress? Do you laugh? We are often found connected to our technology and life for many is one permanent headache. Maybe now is time to find some humour in your life, laugh, whether it is by reading a funny story, listening to a funny joke or simply laughing out loud!

Why - well because it helps alleviate stress! But I hear you stay I am not stressed it is just life!

Stress is a common feature in all our lives and affects different people in many different ways. We all have a different way of dealing with it which determines whether or not it becomes a negative force in your life. It helps us get motivated and can even make us perform better; it also helps us to face threats and dangerous situations.

Short bursts of stress every now and again will not do you any real harm. However, if it's prolonged or you have frequent bouts, your body will find it harder and harder to recover. This can lead to chronic stress.

Is this you?

Mentally, you may:

• Feel anxious.

• Depressed or apathetic.

• Have mood swings.

• Feel tired.

• Find it difficult to concentrate.

• Lose interest in sex.

Physically, you may:

• Get aches and pains in your muscles.

• Get headaches.

• Feel sick.

• Have heart palpitations.

Any medical conditions you already have (such as eczema or asthma), may get worse as well. However be careful and be aware as chronic stress can lead to serious health problems like high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and reduced immunity. The best way to deal with stress is to take control of your life.

What can you do to help reduce stress? The most important thing you can do on a daily basis is to take steps to reduce the stress in your life. Remember it can have a negative impact on your partner, your children, your friends and the extended family. Help recognise the signs, help yourself and help them. Below I have listed some simple yet key steps to deal with stress.

Exercise/Diet

• Regular exercise is a great stress buster.

• Daily walk of 30 minutes can help reduce stress levels.

• Even better to work out intensively a few times a week.

• Yoga - it is a great way to relax your muscles and relax the mind.

• Eating a well-balanced and varied diet.

Even if you don't feel like it at the time you will reap the benefits afterwards.

Communicate

• Don't take on more than you can cope with - remember to say no!

• Delegate or share responsibilities - especially at work and home.

• Be more organised.

• Pen and pad and get it out of your head.

• Eliminate interruptions.

• Talk to a good friend about how they deal with it.

Chill-out Time

• Learn to relax.

• Allow yourself quiet time and space.

• Go for a walk.

• Listen to music.

Most Important

• Get enough sleep.

• Start meditating.

And lastly Laugh Out Loud

It might sound a little crazy but actually having a good laugh has great short-term and long-term benefits. It is not just about switching off the mind for the moment and lightening the load, it actually induces physical changes in the body.

Maya Angelou advised to many an audience to 'laugh as often as you get a chance' and to 'create some time to laugh'.

Why, because it stimulates circulation and aids muscle relaxation; it increases your intake of air and stimulates many organs and increases the endorphins released by our brain; it relieves pain by causing the body to activate its natural painkillers and it improves your mood and lessens depression. Believe it or not it can improve your immune system with positive thoughts.

Go ahead and give it a try. Change your attitude about stress, smile and then laugh, what's the worst that could happen - you might just feel better!

"If you're serious, you really understand that it's important that you laugh as much as possible and admit that you're the funniest person you ever met. You have to laugh. Admit you're funny. Otherwise, you die in solemnity." Maya Angelou