Sunday, March 20, 2016


There’s an old vaudeville joke about the guy who goes to the doctor, raises his arm above his head, and says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do that!”  To which the doctor replies, “So don’t do that!” Ba-da-boom. Drum bump.
Some years ago, I was conducting a stress reduction seminar and an administrator I knew personally rose and said, “No matter what I do, I toss and turn for an hour before I can get to sleep.”
“Do you go to bed roughly the same time every night?” I asked
“Right after the eleven o’clock news.”  
“How does it make you feel?” I asked
“So don’t do that,” I told him. “Take a week off. Avoid negative stimulating activities like TV news, work-related reading, and watching or reading thrillers just before bed. Fill the time with a relaxing bedtime routine, like a warm bath or shower, light reading, pleasant music or a sound spa. Don’t worry,” I said when he furrowed his brow, “I sure there are plenty of people who will make sure you’re aware of the daily disasters.” Ba-da-boom. The entire seminar group laughed. We all knew about that.
A week later he called me. “I can’t believe the difference,” he said, and asked me to put on the seminar for his staff.
We’re surrounded by negative news. And TV news is a crushing load of highly charged, negative stimulation in full color and high definition, designed to disturb you emotionally. Awful stuff that you really have no control over. Can you change what’s happening somewhere across the world?  Bring that murdered person back to life? Undo that house fire? But now you’ve been made an eyewitness! You’re involved! And you’re upset. Ba-da-boom.
Research shows that allowing yourself to continually get upset about something you have no control over is a proven path to clinical depression. 
Focusing on what you can control is a way out.
You can take control: laugh more; depress yourself less. You can laugh your way to physical and mental health improvements. Laughter increases key immune system components and reduces stress hormones. In a University of California, (where else?) study, immediately after viewing a self-chosen funny video, subjects’ depression and anger both dropped 98 percent, fatigue fell by 87 percent, confusion was down 75 percent, and tension decreased by 61 percent. But wait, there’s more: two days before viewing the video, levels of depression among the subjects dropped 51 percent, confusion went down 36 percent, anger fell 19 percent, fatigue 15 percent, and tension 9 percent!
Depressed? Angry? Fatigued? Confused? Tense? Try taking a news vacation for a week. Change your pre-bed habits for a week Ba-da-boom.

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