By Miranda Massie on February 2, 2017
- Who’s there?
A broken pencil.
- A broken pencil who?
Never mind. It’s pointless.
Cue the groans. Perhaps a knock-knock joke is not the best way to illustrate the helpful and healing power of humour.
At some point, you have probably heard that laughter is the best medicine. While it may not be among the most cutting-edge treatments on the market, it might actually be one of the oldest and most cost-effective health boosters available.
Since February is host to Valentine’s Day, it seems like a fitting time to think about ways we might soften our hearts (emotionally) while strengthening our heart health (physically).
10 Ways Humour Can Benefit Your Heart
- Laughter activates and increases blood flow to the part of the brain involved in pleasurable feelings, which can lead to elevated mood and increased happiness.
- Both sides of the brain are stimulated during laughter, which can create more focus and clarity, as well as creativity.
- Positive emotions and laughter enhance social connections and generate intimacy through positive interactions.
- Laughter reduces at least four of the known hormones associated with stress in the body, including cortisol and dopamine.
- Laughter eases muscle tension and psychological stress, which help us to relax.
- Chemicals released in the brain during laughter bind to nervous system receptors to naturally reduce feelings of pain.
- Laughter causes blood vessels in the body to expand, increasing blood flow, leading to improved cardiovascular health.
- Laughter produces deep diaphragm breathing, which serves as a pump for the lymph nodes. Increased lymphatic function leads to antibody production and overall better immunity.
- Deep belly laughing helps exercise the lungs. The more air that you take in, the more oxygen that flows to your brain and body.
- Repeated laughter helps tone and condition muscles in the face, core and back.
This month, I invite you to look out for ways to add more laughter into your life. Watch a funny movie or attend a comedy show. Spend time with friends and family who make you laugh. Strive to find humour during stressful or trying times. Make sure you are always laughing with someone, not at the expense of others.
Though everyone’s sense of humour will differ, here are a few clips and sound effects to get you started. Remember, laughter is contagious – do your part to spread heart health around!
Baby laughing soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaQiSOAQOhg
Laughter yoga: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGNOF8DVIPQ
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Physical Health | Tagged Benefits, blood pressure, editorial, emotions, Exercise, fun, funny, humour, jokes, Laughter, mood, oxygen, pain, relationships, stress management, stress relief, UBC | 1 Response
By Melissa Lafrance on February 2, 2017
This month we are featuring Senior Athletics Director, Gilles Lepine as our Thriving Thunderbird.
Thriving Campus features testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff members.
What are your top three things for thriving in life?
Finding and respecting myself and my values.
My mirror is my best judge. If I can look myself in the mirror and be completely honest with my convictions and myself, I am on the good path. I always say to my children, “Listen to your little voice”, your passions; your interest will drive you where you are supposed to go.
Discovering new persons and new cultures.
I love to discover new natural sceneries, but where I find the most satisfying is to encounter new people, new cultures. To see how much we are different and so similar. I can understand their reality and it helps me to understand my reality.
Having and creating stimulant challenges.
I once heard that happiness is out of our comfort zone… Where some are seeing problems, I try to see challenges. Having challenges is more stimulating than having problems.
Sport is in my DNA. I heard that when we practice a physical activity, it could be compared to meditation. I have to admit then when I’m playing beach volleyball I’m very focusing on the ball coming to my face.
What is your top tip for thriving at work that you want to share with others?
Try to work smarter, not harder.
Could we take the time to stop swimming and look where we are going? Could we do things differently? Do we have the courage to ask others or ourselves “Why we doing this? Could we have some help?”
Think like an entrepreneur.
A budget is a mix of Revenues and… Investments (not expenses). I am always looking for a win-win situation. In a perfect world, every colleague feels they are running their own business. Accountability bring creativity.
Having fun. Life is too short. Humor is a social lubricant…
Is it possible to work hard and have fun? I am convinced the answer is yes.
Injecting some humor make everybody more comfortable and open to collaborate.
Gilles Lépine is the Senior Athletics Director for the UBC Thunderbirds. He was the former Director of Excellence for Laval University’s Department of Athletics for 12 years and now leads the Thunderbirds Athletics program. Some of his past experiences as a student athlete, coach, administrator, and builder of championship varsity program makes him well-suited to lead the Thunderbirds to further excellence. He has played multiple sports competitively and dedicated his time to introducing sports to athletes of all ages through charities and volunteer work.
By Miranda Massie on September 13, 2016
My two-week personal meditation challenge got off to a great start last month: on day 1, I forgot to meditate.
I know that no one’s perfect, but I can’t say that I was feeling particularly confident about my prospects when I couldn’t even remember to start.
This summer was a difficult one for me. I lost a very dear loved one after a year-long battle with cancer. The grief I felt, not only in grappling with the diagnosis but after his passing, was suffocating. I came face to face with aspects of myself that I never knew existed, and my normally joyful heart was filled with anger and pain. After the difficult realization that denial was not going to get me through, I looked for other (positive) coping mechanisms, one of which was meditation.
So here I was, embarking on a two-week challenge with the goal of meditating for 5-10 minutes each day, hoping that it would help me.
I picked a free app called Stop, Breathe & Think. It’s very simple and offers meditation lessons, a variety of meditations to choose from, and a progress tracker. I like it because you can chose the theme of your guided meditation (falling asleep, engaging your senses, change, kindness) and each one ranges between 4 and 7 minutes. Easy, right?
Day 2…I forgot again.
At this point, I could see the humour in my situation: I was not even mindful enough to remember to complete my daily meditation. But then, most mindfulness and meditation practices encourage you to accept your faults and foibles and to try again. So I did.
I managed to complete 6 out of the 14 days of formal meditation, which is not even a passing grade, but I learned to laugh at myself without judging, for which I give myself an A+.
I know that meditation is not a cure-all, but it had the ability to help soften the hard edges that life threw at me, if by no other way than strengthening my resolve while softening the soul.
It was challenging to get into a habit of daily meditation, particularly because my schedule varies so much each day. After week 1, I started to set reminders in my calendar, which helped.
I also noticed that once I was doing it, though sporadically, that I started to incorporate more informal ways of meditation and mindfulness into my day such as deep breathing, taking five, and being more present in my surroundings.
This month, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself and your colleagues. September can be a busy and stressful time on campus and we can sometimes forget to be patient, kind, and forgiving.
And if meditation and mindfulness isn’t for you, I hope that you discover coping strategies that will bring you strength throughout the year. Feel free to share some of your favourite strategies below.
All my best,