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HARRY MITTELMAN, MD
SPECIALIZING IN FACIAL PLASTIC SURGERY

Building Laughter Into Your Life

Loving the benefits of laughter but don’t feel like laughing? Sometimes you have to make a conscious effort to laugh. If you are facing tough times such as a tight budget, work stress, or an illness like cancer, it may help to learn techniques to bring the benefits of laughter into your life.

You can try the old stand-by recommendation:

  • Rent a funny movie
  • Spend time with an amusing buddy
  • Look on the light side: Go places that help you remember good times that mad you laugh in the past

Or you can join the Laughter Movement to learn about the benefits of laughter while fighting stress.

  • Practice Laughter Yoga This specialized combination of yoga breathing techniques and exhalation creates a self-induced “laugh” that provides all the benefits of laughter rooted in humor. You can include this practice in your day by adding a little “ha ha” when you shake hands or introduce yourself to fellow laughter fans, of course.
  • Find a Laughter Group. Get together with other people to laugh. At Laughter Yoga International you can search over 6,ooo social laughter clubs around the world to find one closest to you.

Laughter is a key component of a happy life, and it has powerful physical and mental benefits. No matter what you’re facing, you can learn to laugh and benefit from its healing ways.

Funny movies, sitcoms, cute toddlers and a good friends joke can all offer one of the most powerful, natural stress relieves out there: Laughter.

Health Boosts from A Good Laugh

The benefits of a good laugh are wide-ranging and can include protection from emotional issues like depression and improving the health of your heart. Here’s what experts know about the health benefits of laughter:

Mental health benefits: Mental health benefits, although you probably can’t laugh off depression, one of the many benefits of laughter and a sense of humor is that they buffer you against the negatives of life that could lead to depression. As a bonus, research shoes that people who use humor to fight stress also feel less lonely and more positive about themselves. And one recent study found that humor therapy was as effective as widely used antipsychotic drugs—minus the side effects—in managing agitation in patients with dementia.

Physical Benefits. Although we can’t yet say that a certain number of laughs every day will keep the doctor away, studies show that people who say they laugh a lot also tend to be in good health and generally feel well. Laughter is also one of the most commonly used complementary therapies among cancer patients, who find that one of the benefits of laughter is an improved quality of life.

Heart health benefits. Laughter could be healthy for your heart, too. Some research shows that when you laugh, there is an increase in oxygen-rich blood flow in your body, possibly due to the release of endorphins, which create a chemical rush that counters negative feelings and stress. Activities that increase endorphins include a good workout and listening to music you love, and laughter deserves its place on the list with these other stress busters.

The Physical Side of Stress

 Frazzled by stress?

Learn how it affects your emotional and physical health—and how to cope. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), stress is an expression of the body’s instinct to protect itself. While the stress response may warn us of immediate danger, like a fast-approaching car, prolonged stress can negatively affect your physical and emotional health.

“Our stress response was exquisitely honed over millions of years as a protective mechanism. That was ok for our ancestors who ran into saber-toothed tigers. The tragedy is that today, it’s not that, but hundreds of things, like getting stuck in traffic jams, and our bodies response in the same unfortunate fashion, with hypertension, stroke and ulcers.

How Does Stress Affect a Woman’s Mind and Body?

While men and women can react similarly in many situations, stressful or otherwise, there does seem to be some difference in how men and women treat to stress. While the exact mechanisms aren’t clear, and finding are conflicting, some research suggests that differences in the brain and body may make women more physically and emotionally sensitive to certain types of stress.

Women tend to treat to stress differently than men. They don’t respond with the fight or flight responses—they’re more apt to negotiate.

In previous research, psychologists have called this the tend and befriend response. This may have come about, theorize scientists, because it would have been evolutionarily adaptive for women to protect offspring rather than attack or flee from predators.

The tend and befriend response, some think may be mediated by OxyContin, an anti-stress hormone produced in women during childbirth, breastfeeding, and in both sexes during orgasm and other moments of human connection. This hormone may help women more than men, according to Rosch.

Studies have shown the frequent hugs from a partner can increase levels of OxyContin—and lower levels of blood pressure—in women. Research has found that women who have positive contact with a partner before a stressful situation show lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower heart rate.

How Does Stress Affect a Woman’s Health?

The challenges that woman face at home, in society, and at work may increase the amount of stress you experience.

The stress may vary, but if you have stress with your work, your kids. Your neighbors and your marriage all at once, that’s a big deal. In women, changes in menstrual patterns—nothing else is going on except a he increases in stress, and all of a sudden, they may be losing their hair or having menstrual irregularities, and everything points to stress as a factor.

According to the National Woman’s Health Information Center, the effects of stress on a woman’s physical and emotional health can range from headaches to stomach trouble to back pain.

Specific stress effects include:

Stomach aliments Stress can make you reach for junk food or comfort foods or upset your stomach to the point that you feel like you can’t eat. Common stress-related stomach troubles include cramps, bloating, heartburn and—according to a study published in November 2017 in the Journal Frontiers in System Neuroscience—even irritable bowel syndrome, which affects more woman than men. Depending on how you respond, these can lead to weight loss or gain

Emotional Conditions

From being in a blue or irritable mood to more serious mental issues, like depression, your emotional health suffers when there’s stress in your life.

Sleep Problems

Trouble falling or staying asleep is common in women affected by stress, and this is particularly counterproductive since a good night’s sleep can help ease stress.

Difficulties Concentrating

Stress makes it hard to focus and be effective in your responsibilities at home or at work, and that can compound your problems if the stress comes from your job to begin with.

Lowered Immune Response

One of the more complicated physical reactions to stress is your body’s lessened ability to fight off disease, whether it’s a cold or a flare up of a chronic condition.

How Can Women Lower Stress Levels?

In a survey of 3,000 people, a senior research psychologist at the America Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California, found that 25 percent of happiness hinges on how well you handle stress. And what was the most important stress management strategy. Planning-or anticipating what’s going to stress you out-and having the tools in place to tamp down he tension.

 Here are some more tips for managing stress:

Improve Your Diet

By eating well-balanced meals and skipping junk foods, you can improve your physical well-being and in turn your emotional health.

Make Time for Exercise

Exercise is a phenomenal way of dealing with stress and depression, research shows that getting active can lift your spirits by increasing hormones and nerd chemicals that can improve your mood.

Find Fun Ways to Relax

Connect wit hfamily and friends and people you enjoy being around. Rediscover favorite hobbies has linked pursuits that require focus, like crafting, drawing, or even home repairs, with stress-reducing effects. Other popular stress-busters include yoga, meditation, and tai-chi

Finally, if you feel overwhelmed by stress and its effects, talk to your doctor about ways to deal with it. You may learn new techniques for managing stress on your own, or you may find that therapy with a mental health professional will better help you to get it all under control.

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