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Stressed? Distract, Reframe and Refuelā€”with Humor (Part 1: Distract)

It was a dark and stormy night…(really) and I was waiting to board a flight along with around 200 fellow passengers. We were already delayed an hour and a half and the mood was as dark inside the terminal as it was outside.

We were finally cleared to board, and folks—while anxious about the delay—were relieved to finally be moving out of the gate area and onto the plane. The flight attendant sprinted through her safety routine while I and others nervously calculated if there was any way we were going to make our connections. We rolled onto the tarmac and the pilot announced we were #17 in the lineup—seems there were a LOT of folks trying to get-the-heck-out-of-Dodge that night.

Slowly we taxied closer to the runway. #15…#12…#8—the pilot periodically would announce our progress. But the next time we heard his voice, it was anything but progress.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. While we were waiting for...

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Replacing Your Stress Habit: Jest for Stress

We’re cruising down the highway on a sunny California afternoon—the sparkling ocean to our left, the picturesque mountains to our right—then as we come around a curve we see motionless cars stretching for miles and miles ahead of us.
“Shoot! Dang!” cried my husband. (Okay, so those weren’t his exact words. Hey, I want to keep this article rated PG-13!)

His knuckles whitened around the steering wheel, his jaw tensed, his muscles stiffened. “Look at this frakkin’ traffic.” (Note: He actually did use the word “frakkin’.”)

The sight of a traffic jam sent him immediately into a stress response. But I reminded him that we had plenty of time to get to our destination, we had plenty of gas, we had food and drink in the car (and neither of us was in need of a bathroom break!). So rather than fume about traffic I pulled out my phone, and played several episodes of a show that we both find hysterical (Cabin Pressure, a BBC...

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Toys (Humor Challenge Day 22)

Toys aren't just for kids. De-stress! Play with your OWN toys!

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How Humor Can Help Your Heart Health

Steven looked down at his plate. There was some kale there, and a few colorful things his wife assured him were delicious peppers, and a piece of chicken only slightly larger than his business card.

"This," he asked, "is dinner?"

"Yes," his wife Stacey replied. "It's from the heart healthy cookbook your doctor recommended." For years, Stacey had been cooking up Steven's favorites: fried fish, fried potatoes, lots of cheeseburgers, fried cheese sticks. But she wanted to keep her hubby around a lot longer, and his heart attack had really scared her. So she was willing to change.

Steven, on the other hand, wasn't as eager. He looked at his plate and shook his head. "I'm not sure it's worth it."

Sound familiar? Making lifestyle changes can be a big part of your heart health routine. Altering what we eat, how much we eat, our levels of physical activity, giving up tobacco - these are all challenging things. Best of all, we're asked to make these changes at the same time we're supposed to...

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A Change of Plans!

Well, folks, I'm afraid I have some disappointing news. The stars didn't line up in quite the way they needed to, and as a result the January 18th Vibrantly You Women's Wellness Seminar is being postponed to a future date. As soon as I find out more information about the new date, venue and speaker details, I will be sure to let you know.

Having your plans change can certainly be a stressor. Luckily, humor provides us with an all-natural, drug-free way to boost our emotional resilience - minimizing the impact of stress on our physical and emotional health. With that in mind, I offer the best joke I've heard all day to you:

Q: How does an octopus go to war?

A: Well-armed!

Want to boost the benefit you just got from that simple laugh? Share it with a friend. Try the 24-Hour  Humor Challenge: see how many people you can  make laugh - or at least groan! - with that joke (or anything else that makes you laugh!) over the course of the next day. You'll be surprised how much fun...

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Two Days To Christmas: Past the Point Where Panic Helps You

48 hours out is when the freakouts start. There are two types of holiday freakouts.

The first one is exhibited by the Type A personality who started shopping way back in June, put up their decorations two minutes after Thanksgiving was officially done, and STILL haven't gotten everything they need to get to  make this holiday absolutely perfect...do you know how hard it is to find purple sequined Santa hats in this world, people?

The second type of holiday freakout is exhibited by people who haven't started yet. Even though retailers have been pushing the message that Christmas is coming pretty well continually for 6 months now, these folks completely failed to get it. Christmas sneaks up on them, surprising them all at once with its imminent arrival.

Whichever type of holiday freakout you're currently experiencing, you can get over it faster with laughter. Smiles and laughs can diminish muscle tension.  They’re also contagious.  Practice wearing a smile to...

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Five Days Until Christmas: Handling Holiday Traffic

The holidays mean gathering with our family and friends - and that means that unless you've recently purchased a teleporter, you're going to spend some time on the highway with lots of other people who have all promised that they'll be home for Christmas.

Talk about stressful!  If you get stuck in traffic, take this as an opportunity to reframe. Take a deep breath and visualize the person behind you - the guy compulsively honking his horn --  driving in his underwear.  Imagine the look on his face when he unwraps a sack full of coal and rocks.  At all costs, keep your sense of humor!

Airports can be stressful as well. Bear in mind that while humor can make the hassles of travel easier to bear, you want to exercise some judgement about when and where it's appropriate to joke. TSA agents, for example, are not well known for their sense of humor. This fact is not likely to change during the busiest travel days of the year!

Many of the frustrations of travel are...

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Six Days Until Christmas: Holidays Parties Got Your Pooped?

I'll be the first to admit it: while I have many great skills, present wrapping really isn't one of them. There's the paper, there's the present, there's the bow, there's the tape, there's the tag, there's me: that's at least one too many moving parts for this to end well.

The situation gets even worse when I rush. And it seems like at this time of year, I'm always rushing. One of the reasons I'm rushing is it seems like every night, there's a holiday party.

(I know: first world problems!)

I love parties, and I love my friends, and so when my friends have a party, I want to go. However, if I'm trying to keep stress levels manageable, sometimes I have to be realistic and say "As much as I'd love to, I just can't tonight."

Holiday parties tend to descend all at once. Don’t feel obligated. Go to those you really want to attend and regret the rest.Can’t think of a good excuse? Don’t give one.If it’s a true friend, she won’t need one and if it’s not a...

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7 Days Till Christmas! What Are We Going To Do?

At this point in the Christmas Countdown, I'd like to stop and say "AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! One week until Christmas! What are we going to do?"

There's a reason for that. And the reason is that no matter how good your stress management skills may be, there is going to be a time where they just going to work. We fight stress, and frankly, sometimes stress wins.

Have you ever had the experience of knowing you were just stressed out to the max? That you knew, with absolute certainty, that while you could easily handle everything that was going on in life right that minute, the addition of any additional bit of pressure to your life would push you right over the edge?

That is the moment your child will discover he is virulently allergic to fruitcake - having 'sampled' some he found in the box of last year's holiday decorations. You can imagine the mess. We're talking ho-ho-oh no vomit here - a sight which sends your Very Helpful Mother-in-Law into overdrive, with...

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8 Days Until Christmas: What Happens When You're Out of Money?

Spending money can be exhilarating. Paying the credit cards can be devastating. Think through what you're spending on holiday gifts before you spend it. What feels great in December can feel really not so great in January...and February...and March.

The fact is that sometimes we just can't afford to buy everything we want to buy. Accepting that is actually much less stress inducing than spending ourselves into incredible debt. Spending big is not your only holiday option.

Try providing gifts of service instead the traditional wrapped present. The price is right, you won’t have to wait in line, and the giver and receiver will both enjoy it more. Examples of service gifts: an evening of babysitting - the parents you know will love a night out (or a chance for some serious napping!) Shovel somebody's snow, or play chauffeur for a day for someone who doesn't drive.

Try providing gifts of sentiment. A heart-felt note telling someone how much you appreciate them will be more...

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