The Benefits of Laughter.

The Benefits of Laughter.

When we laugh we instantly feel uplifted, helping to reduce stress and improve low mood. Laughter can also help improve long-term physical wellness too, including our immune system, nervous system, cardiovascular system and brain function to name a few. When we laugh muscle tension starts to release and we immediately feel more relaxed.

It’s amazing really – as the body doesn’t recognise the difference between real and fake laughter, even a fake laugh can have a great impact. Scientists have also found that laughter isn’t always about humour but about relationships, as a natural communication tool that enhances our relationships with the people around us.

Here are several ways you could incorporate more laughter in your daily routine:

Watch something that makes you smile or laugh.

This could be your favourite comedy or short comical clips from YouTube or Social Media. Looking through happy photos and videos of fun memories with family and friends can also do the trick. Share these with friends and family to spread the joy.

Listen to a comedy podcast.

There are a number of comedy podcasts available to chose from – find one that suits your humour and listen along when carrying out your daily activities or whilst taking time out to relax.

Call a friend.

Pick up the phone to your most positive, upbeat friend and share some funny stories from the day.

Try a laughter yoga exercise.

This may feel a little strange at first but also great fun. One example to try with friends or family is ‘Remote Control Laughter’ – it’s a great one to try with the kids! Choose someone in your group to have the the ‘remote control’. When they press ON everyone must laugh and when they switch OFF everyone must stop. Try playing with ‘volume’ too!

During lockdown, ActivCare launched an online Level 1 Seated Laughter Yoga course to train care professionals to become leaders in Seated Laughter Yoga. To celebrate the launch we ran a competition to win a free place on the course by sending a video if residents laughing.

The winners were picked at random but the entries were phenomenal, a lot of contagious loather was spread across the ActivCare team that day.

If you would like to find out more about the Level 1 Seated Laughter Yoga training visit https://www.activcarecourse.com or email natalie@activcarecoaching.com.

Dealing with overwhelm in uncertain times.

Dealing with overwhelm in uncertain times.

Overwhelm happens when we start to believe a stressor such as COVID-19, is too great for us to manage. It can manifest itself through our thoughts including worry or helplessness for example,  or through an intense emotion such as anxiety or irritability.

I have put together six steps to help manage overwhelm;

1. Accept how you are feeling.

Rather than fighting feelings or emotions begin by accepting them. At a time when there is uncertainty and so much unfamiliarity it’s likely that many people can relate. Try speaking with friends and colleagues to start building a support network. 

2. Remember this too shall pass. 

It’s important to try and take control of your thoughts. Unhelpful and unreasonable thoughts are likely to spark negative emotions. Pay close attention to what your thoughts are telling you and begin to create new ones that are more positive and helpful. Remind yourself, this period will pass. 

3. Be present.

Worrying about what may or may not happen in the future will consume time and is likely to be unhelpful. Instead, try being present in the moment, do things you enjoy, practice gratitude and schedule time for productive future planning where necessary. 

4. Remember you are not alone.

With social events cancelled, social distancing put in place and many of us working from home, the sudden change can be a shock to the system. Remember social wellbeing is essential. Find new ways to continue interacting such as reconnecting with old friends on social media, having video calls with loved ones and regular conference calls with colleagues.  

5. Make a plan.

Many people will be experiencing some change to their normal routine. It’s important to find a ‘new’ routine that helps you to be as productive as possible, whilst also quelling overwhelm. When you’re not working, remember to engage in activities that you enjoy such as listening to music or being creative. Perhaps there’s something that you’ve been wanting to do for a while but have struggled to find the time, such as writing a book or a blog.

6. Give back where you can.

Giving back to those less fortunate can offer a new perspective, create a sense of purpose and be incredibly rewarding. There are many charities desperately seeking support for those most vulnerable. If you’re not in a position to donate funds, consider donating time.

The Power of Gratitude

The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude helps shift your focus from what you feel is missing in your life, to appreciating what is already present. Ghandi summed this up perfectly in the following quote: 

“I was sad because I had no shoes and then I saw a man with no feet” Mahatma Ghandi.

Psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University and Robert Emmons of the University of California carried out an experiment on gratitude and its impact on well-being. Within the study hundreds of people were split into three groups and asked to write about their daily experiences. Group one wrote down things they were grateful for that day such as family and waking up on a morning. Group two wrote down things that had bothered them such as finances depleting fast and a friend not appreciating a kind gesture. Group three wrote about any experiences from the day. 

The results of the study indicated that practicing daily gratitude resulted in greater energy, optimism and life satisfaction. The group that practiced gratitude were also 25% happier than those that had not. 

When you practice gratitude regularly you tap into neuroplasticity which strengthens positive new brain cell connections. Why not try implementing gratitude into your daily routine?

Keeping a gratitude journal is one method – each day writing a list of three to five things you are grateful for. The best way to do this is to think about the smaller things in life – waking up to the sun shining, a smile from a stranger or quickly finding a parking space. Over the next 21 days try to write down or think about three things you are grateful for and see what benefits you experience.

7 Tips to Achieve a Positive Mindset

7 Tips to Achieve a Positive Mindset

The Power of Positive thinking has been shown to have many physical and mental benefits. A positive mindset can give you more confidence, improve your mood, and even reduce the likelihood of developing conditions such as hypertension, depression and other stress-related disorders.

All this sounds great, but what does the “power of positive thinking” really mean?

Positive thinking can come in the form of positive imagery, positive self-talk or optimism.

If you want to be effective in being positive, you’ll need to start implementing a number of simple yet effective methods into your daily routine. Read through the following seven suggestions to see which you could start practicing today:

Start the day with positive affirmation.

How you start the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Have you ever woken up late and then felt like nothing good happened the rest of the day? It is likely this is because you started the day with a pessimistic view that carried into other events. Instead of letting this happen, start the day with positive affirmations.

Talk to yourself with statements like, “Today will be a good day” or “I’m going to do well today.” You’ll be amazed how much your day improves.

Focus on the good things.

You’re probably going to encounter obstacles throughout your day. When you encounter such a challenge, focus on the benefits, no matter how small seem.

For example, if you’re stuck in traffic, think about how you now have time to listen to the rest of your favorite playlist. If the shop is out of the food you wanted to make for dinner, think about the benefit of trying something new.

Find humor in bad situations.

Allow yourself to experience humor in even the most trying situations. Remind yourself that this situation will probably make for a good story later and try to crack a joke about it.

Turn failures into lessons.

You’re going to make mistakes and experience failure in probably a lot of different ways. Instead of focusing on how you failed, think about what you’re going to do next time and turn your failure into a lesson.

Change negative self-talk into positive self-talk.

Negative self-talk is often hard to notice. You might think I’m so bad at this or I shouldn’t have tried that. But these thoughts turn into feelings and can impact your conceptions of yourself.

When you catch yourself doing this, stop and replace those negative messages with positive ones. For example, “I’m so bad at this” becomes “Once I get more practice, I’ll be way better at this.” 

Focus on the present.

Not today, not this hour, only this exact moment.

You might be getting stressed, but what in this exact moment is happening that’s so bad? Forget the incident or comment that made you stressed five minutes ago. Forget what might happen five minutes from now. Focus on this one, individual moment.

In most situations, you’ll find it’s not as bad as you imagined. Most sources of negativity stem from a memory or the imagination of the future. Stay in the present moment.

Find positive friends, mentors and co-workers.

When you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll hear positive outlooks, positive stories and positive affirmations. Their positive words affect your own line of thinking, which then affects your words and contributes to the group.

Finding positive people can be a difficult task, but you need to eliminate negativity before it takes over. Do what you can to improve the positivity of others, and let their positivity affect you the same way.

Anybody in any situation can apply these lessons to their own lives and increase their positive attitude. As you might imagine, positive thinking offers amazing returns, so the more often you practice it, the greater benefits you’ll gain.

Volunteering and its Amazing Benefits

Volunteering and its Amazing Benefits

With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the impact of Volunteering and its amazing benefits are enormous to you and your community.

The right role can help you to:
-Reduce stress
-Find friends
-Connect with the community
-Learn new skills
-Advance your career.

Volunteering offers vital help to worthwhile causes, but the benefits can be even greater for you. Even simple ways to help others can improve your health and happiness.

Volunteering connects you to others

While some people are naturally outgoing, others may have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering gives the opportunity to develop your social skills as you meet other people with similar interests. Once you start, it’s easier to branch out and make friends.

Volunteering is good for your mind and body

Volunteering reduces stress, anger and anxiety. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person. Working with animals has also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Volunteering increases self-confidence. Doing good for others provides a natural sense of accomplishment. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life.

Volunteering can advance your career

If you’re considering a new career, volunteering can help you get experience in your area of interest and meet people in the field. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving and project planning.

Just because volunteer work is unpaid, it does not mean that the skills you learn are basic. Many volunteering opportunities provide extensive training. For example, you may become an experienced counselor volunteering in a health centre or gain extensive knowledge of history while volunteering in a museum.

Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life

Volunteering is a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passions. It can be meaningful and interesting and an energising escape from your routine.

Many people volunteer in fields which overlap with their hobbies. For example, if you have a desk job but wish to spend more time outdoors, you may volunteer and help plant a community garden or walk dogs for an animal shelter.