The Benefit of Laughter

The Benefit of Laughter

Did you know that healthy children can laugh 400 times in a day but adults only average 15 times? It seems that we all need more laughter in our lives. But, does it really matter? Is laughter the best medicine?

The Benefit of Laughter

Well, research indicates that laughter is beneficial for our stress levels and our overall wellbeing. There are immediate short-term benefits and there are great long-term effects:

Short Term:

  1. Reduce stress: Laughter changes the perspective of stressful events and we can view them more as challenges and therefore less threatening. The relaxation of your muscles makes you less tense which reduces the symptoms of stress.
  2. Stimulation: Laughter increases your breathing and the oxygen boost stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles. And, the brain releases more endorphins.
  3. Exercise: Laughing is an exercise for the diaphragm, abs and shoulders and also leaves them more relaxed.
  4. Contagious: Laughter is contagious. It effects the others around you and brings increased benefits to a group. You will laugh more at a comedy with a group than on your own.

Long Term:

  1. Immune system: The positive thoughts that accompany laughter releases neuropeptides that help fight stress and general illnesses. While you have banished the negative thoughts that would otherwise flood your body with harmful and stress producing chemicals.
  2. Pain: Laughter is believed to produce natural painkillers to ease pain.
  3. Depression: Laughter provides a long term and beneficial effect by reducing the symptoms of depression.
  4. Fake it: Research indicates that the positive effects of laughter are not dependant on whether it is real or faked. Like many things, faking it works and, as a bonus, usually leads to it becoming real over the long term.
  5. Social: As in ‘contagious’ above, the group benefits of laughter can lead to an improvement in the quality of your social life.

You don’t find that much is funny in life? Just give it a try and try to find the funny side. Laugh at your bloopers instead of cursing. Enjoy a good comedy – live is often best. Observe yourself after a good laugh. Feeling good and relaxed? That’s laughter at work.

Re-entering the Outside World

Re-entering the Outside World

Travelling post-Covid

In the 2015 movie “Room”, based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, a mother and her son Jack are held captive in a single-room outbuilding for nearly seven years.  During this time, “Ma” works to keep her son healthy and happy by structuring their days with physical and mental exercises, keeping a healthy diet, limiting TV-watching time, and a strict regime of body and oral hygiene. Because it is all he has ever known, Jack believes that only the things in his immediate world are “real.” Ma, unwilling to disappoint Jack with a life she cannot give him, allows him to believe that the rest of the world exists only on television.  When they eventually escape, Ma must begin the process of relearning how to interact with the larger world, and Jack, who is overwhelmed by new experiences and people (and the realisation that the world actually exists beyond TV), wants only to return to the safety of the world he knows – the world of his Room.

 

 

I recently ventured out of Hong Kong for the first time in two years.  My husband and I planned the trip in order to bring our son home – he’d been delayed in Australia because of Hong Kong’s ban on flights from “high risk” countries.  We intended to meet him in Thailand, do a 14-day “wash out”, and then fly back to Hong Kong together.  The trip was functional in nature, with the goal of getting him back to Hong Kong and regular school.  It took weeks of organising, securing various approvals, passes, and certificates, and an off-the-charts level of patience.

About a week before we were set to travel, the HK government rescinded the flight ban, which meant we could potentially fly our son straight back to the city.  This prompted a debate:  Should we still go?  Was it necessary? Should we spend the money?  Would we rather wait and take an actual holiday later?  What if we got Covid while overseas?  Would we be able to get proper medical attention?  Would we be able to get back into Hong Kong?  And on, and on.

Eventually, having reminded ourselves that we both loved Thailand and we hadn’t been outside of Hong Kong for what felt like ages, we decided to go. Being effectively ‘grounded’ (or as some of our friends described it, “imprisoned”) for the last two years had taught us two things:  first, that life is short, and it is richer with travel; second, that we’d taken for granted our ability to see friends and family whenever we wanted.  Like most Hong Kong people, we were used to hopping on a plane at a moment’s notice, and living away from our families had not precluded us from seeing them.  We saw an opportunity to reconnect through this trip.  We decided to turn it into a long-awaited holiday, and invited the rest of our family and some friends to join us.  With the decision made, we felt a surge of joy and anticipation.  We had something to look forward to.

While we fully expected that travel in a post-Covid world would be a logistical hassle, what we didn’t anticipate was how it would feel to be out in the world again.  We experienced walking mask-free down public streets and entering restaurants without checking in.  We went to bars that were packed wall-to-wall with people (again, no masks).  We saw people shaking hands and hugging again.  We made plans and reservations for meals and activities, without having to check whether venues were open.  We were able to go out without carrying our phones.

How did it feel?  Honestly, it was a strange sensation, which led us to reflect on how we’d coped with the last two years.  We felt happy, sad, frustrated, regretful, guilty, optimistic, and resigned all at the same time.  The joy and appreciation of rejoining the outside world sat very uncomfortably against a sense of grief at having missed two years with people we love.  Had we done the right thing in avoiding travelling to see our family and friends, simply because of government restrictions?  Should we have pushed ourselves harder to just cope with multiple periods (and the expense) of hotel quarantine, for the reward of spending precious time with loved ones?  What if something had happened to them (as it did for so many families) and we weren’t there?  This was an experience of simultaneous celebration and self-flagellation.  Being with our family and friends again filled our hearts, and also reminded us of how much we’d missed.  In addition, it highlighted how much we’d gotten used to life with Covid – mask-wearing, contact tracing, vaccination discussions, rapid antigen testing, and avoiding coughing in public all felt normal to us.  The absence of these things felt uncomfortable and foreign.

There is something in this for me that connects back to Ma’s experience of escaping the Room.  She’s been isolated for so long, and the narrow world she’s inhabited for the last seven years has suddenly widened beyond comprehension.  She does not remember how to exist in that world. What was an effective coping mechanism – creating structure, routine, and stories for herself and Jack to deal with a lack of freedom – is no longer needed.  The prison no longer exists.  But she also feels guilt at not preparing Jack for the real world.  Anger for being imprisoned for so long and missing out on life. Uncertainty about how to relate to people other than her son.  Regret at not having been able to escape sooner.  Grief at the loss of time and the experiences she and Jack have missed.  Fear and discomfort at re-entering a world that has been lost to her for seven years.

The tight restrictions in Hong Kong were nothing compared to what Ma and Jack had to endure.  I am not suggesting for a second that travel restrictions are anywhere close to being imprisoned and traumatised on a daily basis for seven years.  What does strike me is the wide range and similarity of feelings that bubble up once a fuller amount of freedom is available to us, whether that freedom comes in the form of post-Covid travel or a release from captivity.

Our ability to adapt to our surroundings has ensured our survival over time.   Covid led governments around the world to implement restrictions on daily living which none of us could have imagined.  And we’ve coped with those restrictions by getting used to not travelling, by learning to be more still, and by adapting our daily routines to fill the void.  Ma coped with her lack of freedom much in the same way – by creating routines to foster a sense of normalcy for her and her son.  We humans have the capacity for profound resilience in the face of adversity.

As our world begins to open up, a new range of choices becomes available to us.  What will we do with that freedom?  We can stay home, avoid the complexity of travel and the risk of getting sick, and remain comfortable in the routines we’ve built for ourselves.  The trade-off is, perhaps, a greater richness in life.  Alternatively, we can start travelling and stepping back out into the world, accepting that we don’t know what will happen when we do, and we don’t know how it’ll affect us.

Regardless of whether you stay put, or step back into travel, you can expect to “feel all of the feels”.  The challenge is to stay in the present and allow the full range of emotions to wash through us.  Nothing can be done to change the past or to control the future.  

What choice will you make?  

Find out more about Kelly here

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how Kelly or AMindset can support you, please contact us.



The Power of Belief

The Power of Belief

The Power of Belief

In this short 10 minute video The Power of Belief Eduardo Briceno explains how failure is the way to the greatest success. He explains that the way we understand our intelligence and abilities deeply impacts our success. Based on social science research and real life examples, Eduardo Briceño articulates how mindset, or the understanding of intelligence and abilities, is key. When students or adults see their abilities as fixed, whether they think they’re naturals or just not built for a certain domain, they avoid challenge and lose interest when things get hard. Conversely, when they understand that abilities are developed, they more readily adopt learning-oriented behaviors such as deliberate practice and grit that enable them to achieve their goals. But this belief is itself malleable, and there are clear actions we can all take to establish a growth mindset and enable success for our children, our peers and ourselves. 

TEDx

 

About TEDx

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

Curated by Liz McCaughey

Curation

At aMIndset we value good content for our readers. In that spirit, we will often curate or excerpt content from top quality sources on the web.The very internet itself was created on the foundation of linking, sharing, and recommending good content from other sources on the web.

Curation means finding good, well-written, and highly relevant material for our readers. By choosing content from your site, we are giving it our vote of approval. This not only means that we excerpt your content, but we also give it our highest recommendation, and we encourage our readers to view your content on your own website.
Our curation is designed to send our readers to your site so you get new visitors exposed to your top quality content. We curated your content because it was outstanding in some way.

Full details of aMindset’s Curation Policy can be found HERE

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Story of Your Life

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Story of Your Life

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Story of Your Life

The topic of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can seem cold and complex on the surface. In a broad, clinical sense it refers to a category of psychological treatment methods that aim to change our patterns of thinking. We can also think of CBT in a more personal context. For example, we may consider it to be the process of rewriting our life stories.

Our Personal Stories

Each person has a unique life story that is comprised of a series of events, emotions, lessons, and anticipations. It defines who we are, how we experience the world, and how we expect life to unfold in the future. Mental health problems can be deeply rooted in our life stories, and CBT can help us address these issues by rewriting parts of our tales. CBT isn’t a time-traveling tool. We’re not able to change the events themselves. The focus is instead on changing the ways in which we relate and respond to these events.

Becoming an Engaged Author

We can’t change the past, but we can certainly change how we think about it. CBT is more about altering how we write our life story, rather than what is written. The process of writing our life story is largely passive, although people undoubtedly put their own spin on memories (sometimes consciously, sometimes not). We tend to not pay attention to the manner in which we record, replay, relate, and respond to our life stories. We’re usually focused on the content alone. CBT helps us become more aware of the ways in which our “writing style” impacts the story, allowing for more engagement in the writing process.

How CBT Changes the Story

Our behaviors are directly linked to our cognitions (mental constructs, like thoughts, emotions, and memories). These cognitions contribute to the formation of our life stories. Mental health can suffer because of irregularities in the formation and functioning of these cognitive process. We may, for example, develop an irrational fear of birds because of a single bad experience as a child. If this fear is left unexamined, our life story would likely be framed in a negative light whenever birds are involved. CBT could help us identify the source of our fear (the first bird incident), and eventually to eliminate it with verified treatment methods. We would then be free to reevaluate our past experiences involving birds with a new perspective, allowing us to rewrite our life stories, one event at a time.

Resilience vs Adversity – Childhood Lessons

Resilience vs Adversity – Childhood Lessons

Resilience is rooted in adaptive behaviour and science. The advances in neuroscience in the last decade have allowed a better understanding of why some people develop the adaptive capacities to overcome significant adversity and others do not. 

Which one are you – coping or non-coping?

There are many forms of adversity in childhood, but all adversity can be overcome if a child has a supportive parent, caregiver, or another adult. This combination of family or friends’ support helps develop positive experiences, which constitute the foundations of resilience. They enable a child to develop personal character strengths, which allows them to respond to adversity and thrive eventually. Learning to cope with manageable threats to our physical, emotional, and social well-being is critical for developing resilience.

Resilience is the capacity to continue and develop positive behaviours following adversity at a behavioural level.

Adversity = Difficult or unpleasant situation

There is no clear roadmap letting us know what we will experience in life, but adversity is guaranteed. For example, who has not experienced the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, work stress, a severe illness, or just getting older. Each change affects people differently. We all hate uncertainty, especially those pesky, fearful thoughts-forms that uncertainty and adversity create in our minds. They are sometimes described as the ‘chattering monkey’. But having resilience helps us overcome the negativity associated with fearful thoughts and perceived negative experiences – so as you get older, start to embrace life’s adversities. We need to be aware that the road to resilience will likely involve considerable emotional distress, but that makes us stronger and better. So, stop being the victim, or OK, we are all allowed to be the victim for a short time, but then we must sort ourselves out and move on. Resilience is the key, and adversity is part of the process.

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Liz McCaughey

Find out more about Liz here

Other Articles:

Is learning to be resilient a positive life experience? – Yes!

Resilience – How to Develop it Successfully

Is learning to be resilient a positive life experience? – Yes!

Is learning to be resilient a positive life experience? – Yes!

Resilience is a term used in a variety of ways and contexts. Some questions to ask yourself:

Are you resilient? 

Do you want to be resilient? 

Why is resilience necessary? 

What the hell does it mean to be resilient?

Resilience can be an individual characteristic, a learning process, or an outcome resulting from adversity. In the ‘Resilience’ AMindset articles, we will focus on resilience within the confines of a person’s ability to adapt successfully to acute stress, trauma, or more chronic forms of adversity. We are a mental health company that improve lives, so let’s look at how our articles can enhance your life. ☺

Resilience is positive whether it is considered an outcome, a process, or a capacity. Having resilience allows us to use adaptive responses in the face of significant adversity. And the joy is there is no end by date to the capacity of resilience within us. It is neither an immutable trait nor a resource that can be used up. 

So first, let’s look at the biology; resilience results in healthy development because it protects the developing brain and other organs from the disruptions produced by excessive activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis stress response systems. To avoid the complexity of neuroscience, stated simply, resilience transforms potentially toxic stress into tolerable stress. 

Toxic Stress = Prolonged adversity

Tolerable Stress = Normative life experiences

So, resilience is rooted in both the adaptation and the experiences that a person has experienced. And these experiences are logged from infancy. These life experiences either promote or limit our capacity to develop resilience.

So don’t run away from negativity; it helps build resilience. Challenge the negative experience and become stronger and more resilient as a result.

 

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Liz McCaughey

Find out more about Liz here

Other Articles:

Resilience vs Adversity – Childhood Lessons

Resilience – How to Develop it Successfully