How To Cope with Stress & Mental Health Through Laughter, Exercise & Sleep

By Nora Heston Tarte

Fair or not, most women work full time and take on the majority of household responsibilities, and this lifestyle opens women up to high levels of stress.
Between work, school, home responsibilities and family chores, being overwhelmed sometimes feels par for the course.

Mental health is important, and there are ways to combat stresses caused by everyday life with a little care and attention. Carolyn Snyder, a Mental Health Matters/ ELD Instructor and English Department Chairperson at Health Careers Academy sees first hand the effects stress has on female students.

“Women need a consistent plan of exercise, self-care, sleep, and meditation,” Carolyn says. “Once a season “me-cations” don’t match up with consistent careful attention to your overall health.”

So how can we find peace in the everyday? Laughter, exercise, and sleep are the main ingredients for a healthy mental lifestyle.

Laughter It is widely believed that laughter helps us balance out the negative mood caused by stressors. Laughter is “the best medicine” because it releases endorphins in our brains triggering our opioid response system. Research has found deep connections between laughter and lower levels of stress, including that laughing with others spreads positive benefits throughout the group. Laughter can also boost the immune system, and when we are physically healthy it’s easier to be mentally healthy, as well.

Exercise – Exercise has both short and long term stress relief benefits. “On the short term, any form of exercise relieves stress by releasing endorphins,” Carolyn says. “If the exercise is rhythmic such as swimming or running, it can also help create a meditative state thus also relieving stress. Those who suffer from clinical anxiety benefit even more. As a rule of thumb, engage in aerobic exercise for 20 minutes each day. Long-term results should show after about 10 weeks.

Sleep The cycle of positive sleep and low stress can be a complicated one. Because stress impacts how you sleep and lack of sleep impacts stress, it can quickly become a vicious cycle. “Adults who sleep more than eight hours a night report feeling more patient with their children and partner, feeling less overwhelmed, feel more motivated and feel overall less irritable,” Carolyn says. There’s science to back up the claims, too. When we sleep,  the brain flushes itself of cellular waste much like your circulatory system does for the rest of your body.

Learn More:
Health Careers Academy

931 E. Magnolia St., Stockton
(209) 933-7360
Stocktonusd.net/HCA

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