Day 3- Laugh it off…seriously. I recently spent an hour or so in a traffic jam with my husband while on our way to visit with family. I have a very difficult time sitting still and not doing anything…I am a woman warrior, of course so my creative juices started flowing. I made a sign in the car that said “The Zombies are Coming!” and placed this sign on the side windows of my car. My husband (the driver) did everything he could to ignore the fact that people were giving us the “bug-eyed” look as they passed our car. I laughed and laughed and then snickered some more. Laughing has a very therapeutic value to it. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. So, as you can see there are many benefits to laughing every now and then or on a regular basis.
The link between laughter and mental health
Not sure how to laugh on a regular basis? Here are a few tips for that!
- Watch funny videos/movies/shows/programs...whether it is slap-stick humor like “The Three Stooges”, cutting-edge sarcastic movie like “The Bridesmaids” or blooper shoes like America’s Funnies Home Videos”, watching things on TV that make us laugh is a great experience.
- Do NOT laugh when other people fall…well maybe just a little bit even if it sounds really mean, any form of laughter is better than none.
- Go to a comedy show or look for funny jokes on Google or your favorite search engine. It is amazing how many funny jokes are out there….just not to be told by me (I am horrible at telling jokes).
- Laugh at yourself. Have you walked somewhere and accidently tripped over your own feet or the sidewalk or whatever and then looked around to see who was watching you? Yep, I do this sort of thing all of the time. I laugh at all of my funny accidents unless I am on the ground in excruciating pain…then I expect everyone else to laugh, of course only after you make sure that I am still alive!
- Fake it ‘till ya’ make it. This may sound funny (note the bad play on words) but our brain has a very difficult time determining the difference between a fake laugh and a real laugh. The same biological process happens either way. This means that if you “fake” laugh, you will still feel really good (after you get over feeling weird for fake laughing, that is). Now try it! Did it work? Are you feeling better? Even for a second? Good, my work is done for the day.
Enjoy your day today and keep laughing!
Day 2- You have probably heard everyone say “take a deep breath and relax”, I know that I am told this often…It has absolutely nothing to do with my hyperactive personality quirks, of course! In all seriousness, deep breathing or sometimes called “relaxed breathing” has a wonderful place on the pathway to self-care. Deep breathing increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain (a most essential part of the body) and helps the body relax as a result. When I talk about deep breathing, I am not saying that you need to do Lamaze style breathing every ten minutes but you should not just do one quick breath and be done with it. Deep breathing should include a powerful moment of “being in the moment” and allowing us to reset our brains and gather our place in the universe. I deep breathe on a very regular basis because I have found, over the years, that when I get anxious, nervous or stressed out in any way, I tend to hold my breath. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:
1. Breathe in slowly. Count in your head and make sure the inward breath lasts at least 5 seconds. Pay attention to the feeling of the air filling your lungs.
2. Hold your breath for 5-10 seconds (again, keep counting). You don’t want to feel uncomfortable, but it should last quite a bit longer than an ordinary breath.
3. Breathe out very slowly for 5-10 seconds (count!). Pretend like you are breathing through a straw to slow yourself down. Try using a real straw for practice…it works
4. Repeat the breathing process until you feel calm and then do it again.
So, as a woman warrior, we need to structure our days so that we have enough energy to “keep fighting the good fight” or as others know it to be…life. Self-care is one of the most important ingredients to being a self-proclaimed woman warrior. What does self-care mean for us busy, busy, busy professional and not-so-professional women? It means we take a few minutes each day to take care of ourselves holistically. I have laid out a 30 day plan for self-care. This self-care plan is not stagnant in nature, you can adapt, add, change and modify things as you see fit. That is one of the joys of being a woman warrior-we can make decisions for ourselves or by ourselves…if we choose to do this.
About this Woman Warrior!
Samantha Afanador is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the proud owner of a private counseling practice in Apex, North Carolina Peak Professional Group. She has over 20 years of experience in the mental health field and has been a woman warrior since the very tender age of 16 when she first stood up for women's rights in the Dominican Republic. She has played many roles in her life and uses her sense of humor, authentic projection of herself and her clinical knowledge to support and mentor those around her.