We're navigating challenging times right now. Maybe you're wondering: How can I get through the restrictions of this pandemic without losing my mind? How can I not just survive, but flourish? What are the other ways to boost immunity?
I have some answers, and they have nothing to do with handwashing, self-isolation, or social distancing—although these are essential measures during grave times.
Let's sum up the solution in one word: Fun.
What?! How can I be talking about fun? To be sure, this virus is no laughing matter. However, if we let these isolating times bring us down, up will go our stress, leading to depression, anxiety, higher risk of infection, heart disease and a compromised immune system.
My prescription for you right now? Look for ways to bring fun into your life, even if you're struggling. George S. Merriam, author and part of the family that published the Merriam Webster Dictionary put it this way: "The sense of humor is the oil of life's engine. Without it, the machinery creaks and groans. No lot is so hard, no aspect of things is so grim, but it relaxes before a hearty laugh."
Great wisdom, don't you agree? So how do you put some healing fun into your life during these trying times? I have seven suggestions to share with you below. Myself, the unexpected karaoke night was a super fun oxytocin high!
1. Laugh Often and Much
You've probably heard someone say, "laughter is the best medicine." Well, it is! When it comes to boosting immunity, laughter is right up there with nutrition, sleep, and exercise. It's one of the most enjoyable ways to protect your health. Medical research has found that laughter or even the anticipation of laughter (for example, if you know you're about to watch a funny movie or TV show), strengthens the immune system's ability to fight off viruses and other foreign invaders. So doctor's orders: watch funny videos, tune in to television comedies, read cartoons and joke books, and more. We just watched (for the umpteenth time) My Big Fat Greek Wedding! I love that movie, especially as a first generation American, I can relate.
2. Smile, Even If You Have to Fake It
Put a smile on your face, even if you're consciously faking it. This fake smile can improve your mood and reduce stress. A study published in the journal Psychological Science in 2012 found that people who smiled after performing stress-provoking tasks showed a more significant reduction in heart rate than people who maintained a neutral facial expression. A reduced heart rate means lower stress and anxiety. We need both during this pandemic!
If you don't feel like faking a smile, choose a "cheer word." This is a word that when you say or think of it, brings a smile to your face. Maybe it's a word like "jiggle," or the name of your child, love, or pet, or even the word "smile." Say your cheer word many times throughout the day to bring a smile to your face, instead of a neutral expression.
When you smile, your body releases endorphins (natural painkillers) and the feel-good hormone serotonin. Smiling lifts your face and makes you look years younger. Smiling makes us feel good and look good. It is a natural uplifting drug. Also, if we have to have wrinkles, I'd rather have a smile and laugh lines than frown lines.
3. Make a List of All the Fun Stuff You Can Do
We can't control what's going on in the world around it, but we can control our response to it. One way to do that is to write down a list of fun activities to pursue now, then do them. I asked my Keto-Green Community on Facebook to share their ideas for fun. Here's a sample of their fantastic ideas:
- Take walks in nature.
- Decorate the house for Easter.
- Crank up music and dance like crazy.
- Watch your dogs play outside.
- Meditate to uplifting music.
- Watch anything that's a comedy.
- Prepare new recipes with your kids.
- Do puzzles as a family. (I do not recommend 2000 piece puzzle, ha)
Last weekend we hooted and hollered as we did Karaoke. Can I tell you that was the first time in my life that I did this and it was a blast. My favorite song: I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor oh yes!
4. Neutralize the Negative
Fun statistic: It takes three positive statements to neutralize the health-damaging consequences of one negative! That's the compelling finding of happiness researcher Marcial Losada.
When someone is slapped down with disapproval or unfounded criticism, those remarks can cause physical and emotional damage. So you never want to inflict that on anyone. Be kind, not critical! I remember a tennis coach I once had. Most lessons, I did 99 things wrong, but he always focused on the one thing I did well. That kind of coaching took my tennis game to a whole new level. Plus, he was an example to me of how we should always treat others.
There's another aspect to neutralizing the negative. Internally, many of us are engaged in punishing self-criticism – also known as negative self-talk. It does us no good and can lead to depression, anxiety, weight problems, chronic fatigue, and more.
The solution is to take Losada's advice to heart. Every time you say something negative to yourself, counter it with 3 positives. Say: "I'm beautiful and sexy. I have the potential to do anything I want to do. I'm healthy, loving, kind, and good." Speaking kindly and encouragingly to yourself feels good.
Use this technique to release negative beliefs about yourself so that you can step into brilliance. You're worthy of all the blessings coming your way.
5. Log onto makeeverythingfun.com
This is an amazing website – the brainchild of an equally amazing woman, Dr. Kathryn Guylay, a heart-centered leader in business and personal development who has worked with some of the largest corporations in the world in the areas of strategy and development.
On her website, Kathryn offers free resources on how to make nutrition fun, how to make leadership fun, how to make wellness fun – and much more. If you want to make life fun, especially right now, this website is for you.
6. Celebrate Immediately
I believe that if you celebrate, even the tiny wins, you bring more of the same victories into your life. So celebrate your accomplishments, big or little, along the way—losing a few pounds, doing your home workouts, getting rid of junk food in your kitchen, drinking lots of pure water, and so forth.
Ways to celebrate: buy some new lipstick, sip a glass of wine with your love, indulge in a little dark chocolate, buy yourself a new movie, order a sexy new outfit, or just tell yourself you did a great job. It's fun to celebrate!
7. Take the One Next Right Step
Here's a fun tip from my Clean 16, featured in my new book Keto-Green 16. It's not easy hunkering down through this pandemic with all its restrictions. To keep from feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself:
"What's the one next right step I can take today?"
It might be as simple as eating a Keto-Green lunch, putting more green veggies on your plate, taking a walk in the sunshine, fitting in an intermittent fast, pampering yourself with a new skin cream, or writing in your journal.
Just take the one next right step. Taking small steps has kept me from feeling sad over the traumas, griefs, pain, failed relationships, and rejections I—like everyone else—have had. Looking back has a way of pulling us back. As I like to say, God gave us eyes in front of our face to look forward, not backward.
Use this period to go from fear to fun. Now is your time to smile and laugh more, connect with loved ones, take the time to eat healthy meals, take long, luxurious baths, and discover new things. Nurture a positive outlook and be grateful for your day-to-day blessings. When you adopt these ways of thinking, being, and living, you can control the impact of this pandemic on you and prepare for the next great phase of your beautiful life.