“Take advantage of the season” is the theme of the month for Advantage Rehab. This is the Christmas and winter season but there are many seasons to take advantage of. There are seasons related to our age; to our education, the time of year, and holidays. Each comes with unique experiences and opportunities. The thing that is important to remember is that no matter the season there is always something to celebrate and opportunities in which to get involved.
A hallmark of oncoming winter days is fewer daylight hours. It is dark before dinner time. While We often complain about this, but instead we can think of it as an incentive to get to bed a little earlier. Check out our recent blog on sleep, “Take Advantage of Rest”, to see how important it is to not burn the candle at both ends.
The Christmas season for many becomes stressful. Gifts to buy, food to prepare, house to clean, travel in busy airports or on snowy roads, or missing family members. When you feel stressed a chemical reaction occurs in your body. Your heart rate increases, your breathing quickens, your muscles tense, your blood pressure goes up and your immune responses decrease. In other words, stress is bad for your health and can make you feel lousy.
So how does one “take advantage of the season”?
A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive effects laughter can have. Check out these benefits from the Mayo clinic Here.
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. Laughter can:
- Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
- Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:
- Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
So, this season or any season, watch a funny movie, enjoy the out of doors, do something silly, spend time with a friend or family member, go to the park and watch what the kids are doing, join in and play, volunteer in an area of interest. Laugh at a joke or tell someone a joke.
If you are unable to get out and enjoy participating in community events due to chronic pain, lousy balance, an injury or just no energy, talk to a PT at Advantage Rehab. We can share a laugh with you while we get you on the road to recovery.