Breathing is normally a subconscious function, but conscious breathing can help reduce stress and tension. Focusing on your breathing keeps your attention on the present moment and is a common component of meditation, a proven stress reducer. Breathe deeply and slowly, noticing each breath you inhale and exhale.
Laughter is the best medicine. Keep handy a book of jokes or a favorite comic strip cartoon. When you feel blue, immerse yourself in the humor and go for a stomach-aching full laugh. Deep laughter improves your immune system and helps you keep life's problems in perspective.
Laugh Like Crazy
If you are with a small group of friends who are not feeling too peppy, or just one bummed out buddy or Debbie Downer type, and you want to break the bad mood…start laughing. This is not something you would NOT do at a funeral, obviously, but in a non-emotionally charged situation where the room, and people in it, need a new burst of energy and sunshine. Break out in laughter. Start slowly with a straight face, so they don’t even know what you are up you. Then formulate a smile…then turn it into a chuckle…then build into a contagiously happy laugh. They will think you are insane at first, until they can resist no more…the laughter will sneak up on them and out of them. Just keep laughing like crazy, and see if one person can resist the allure of that wild laughter. It will fill the room with a burst of laugher and sunshine!
Laugh with Friends and Family
You don’t have to be outrageous and totally wacky. Friends can share a laugh together over the most mundane and silly things. From the suburbs to the middle of Manhattan, we can always gather with a friend or two to share some laughter.
Take Humor Risks
When you are stuck in your own thoughts, do something just a little wild to get out of it. And do the same thing to help a friend who needs a good laugh. The Greek Goddess Baubo once lifted her skirt and exposed her privates in order to get the heartbroken Demeter to smile again and bring the sun and flowers back to the earth. What can you do to top that?
Return to Nature
Go for a walk in a park, sit by a fountain, or gaze at a poster of your favorite ocean or mountain scene. Reflecting on a beautiful natural scene can lift your spirits.
Make a brief list of three to five things in your life for which you are grateful. Reflect on each item and identify the positive way it impacts your life.
Give of Yourself
Providing an uplifting message or thought to someone else also uplifts you. Call an elderly relative or friend. Offer a few minutes of your time to baby-sit or walk the dog for a busy neighbor. Helping another moves your focus and will improve your spirits.
Recall a great vacation or a wonderful family reunion. Reflect on a card or letter someone sent you that was touching and showed they cared for you.
Use a Strength
We all have unique strengths, capabilities at which we are particularly talented. Use one or more of your strengths in some activity. If you don't know your strengths, take the VIA questionnaire.
Tend Something You Care About
Tend to a garden, a favorite house plant, a pet, or your car. When we tend something we provide a loving, caring attention to it that is a form of giving. Tending is not a chore, it's a blessing.
Guilt and regret can hang around us like a lead weight, bringing on mild depression without our awareness of the cause. Offer up a sincere apology for things you've done or said that offended or hurt another. You'll feel the relief of your burden of regret even if you aren't able to personally deliver the apology. Offering it up to the Universe is sufficient.
When you applaud like your mean it you cannot help but smile and chuckle. Just the act of clapping can awaken your body and senses. Clapping makes you feel happy and joyous! Remember that favorite kiddie song: “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.” So give yourself a hand as you begin your day!
Share a Happy Meal
Just one breakfast meeting a week with people of a similar sense of humor is great medicine for the soul. Do you love jokes? Find friends who are good joke tellers and jokesters. Share funny stories, crack jokes, and enjoy. Stay in touch during the week by e-mailing each other the best Internet humor you can access.
Create a deck of “Happy Cards”
This may seem silly, but who cares? Happy thoughts come to those who can tap into the child within. Buy a pack of plain index cards and some pretty magic markers and write individual sayings, jokes and quotes that make you laugh and bring sunshine to your life and to others. Keep them in a special box, or a decorated coffee can, and reach in any time you need a laugh. Offer them to friends, like brownies, when they come to visit. Even if they laugh at you for having “Happy Cards” in a coffee can it is worth the effort.
Every time the sun fades lift the sides of your mouth into a smile. Remember—you cannot be depressed when you are smiling.
Start a Good Mood Virus
Take the lead in spreading good cheer. When we allow ourselves to feel good and filled with joy, we radiate it. Just as our bad moods can be contagious, our good moods can pave the way for many miles of smiles. If we smile, people smile back; if we laugh, they chuckle too!
Watch this charming video of the classic song "I Love to Laugh" from Mary Poppins. See if you can keep a straight face!