Friday, October 31, 2008

Enlist Laughter to Increase Your Endorphins Through the Winter Months

The weather is changing. Fall is here. Growing up in the Midwest this was always a depressing time of year for me. Shorter days, cooler weather and the threat of snow. I loved the vibrant fall colors as the leaves on the trees changed. The reds and oranges were my favorite and painted a beautiful backdrop heading into Thanksgiving. I loved playing in the snow, but hated the conditions the weather created that went along with it. Worst of all was the gray days and lack of sunshine that went on for two and three weeks at a time. Driving by the mall, there were those huge piles of dirty snow that didn't melt until the end of March.

By contrast I loved Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays. Fall created a sense of conflict. A time of year I enjoyed for the festivities of time spent with family and relatives. But the challenge of the cold weather and....all that food! Being bulimic it was a constant struggle to fight off the pull to indulge in all the food that was so readily available at school and the office. The more cookies and candy and junk food I indulged in, the worse I felt. Which contributed to the low level of energy I had in the winter months. I spent a lot of time tucked under a blanket on the couch to fight off the chill.

It wasn't until April that I felt my spirits start to lift with the promise of spring. The fresh cool breezes that meant summer wasn't too far away. Watching the buds grow on the trees and feeling that sense of calm that came with the return of green on the trees and yards.

Okay, but reality check. You can't just give away six months out of every year! How can you cope with the changes this time of year and keep your attitude and emotions up? One thing I've found is curling up to watch a great movie. A movie that makes you feel good all over. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas it's easy as there are so many heart warming movies from years gone by on TV. But what about the rest of the time?

We've all heard the term "Laughter is the Best Medicine." I've heard numerous stories of people with terminal illnesses that have incorporated laughter as part of their therapy and healing. One example of this is told in the movie The Secret where a woman uses comedies as part of her treatment for breast cancer. Combined with positive thoughts and affirmations laughter is incredibly healthy and a powerful tool for us.

"Breakthrough medical research is shedding new light on the physiological beneficial effects of humor on health. A sense of humor can come in handy, whether it's for dealing with an illness, the pressures of daily living, stress, coping at work even, humor can dramatically change the quality and outlook of our lives. Humor is an easy way to get in touch with your feelings, and control them in difficult situations." If you Google "laughter and healing" you'll find numerous websites and articles on this topic. (

For individuals struggling with eating disorders, being overweight or depression laughter can be used to uplift your mood, emotions and take your mind off how lethargic and awful you feel. It's a great way to disrupt the pattern or rut you're stuck in. So whether you head to the local video store, order from Netflix or buy On Demand through your cable carrier stock up on your favorite comedies shows and movies for a boost in your endorphins (the natural feel good chemical). If this is new for you maybe you don't have a long list of favorites. Here are some ideas. Hopefully this list will remind you of a few of your favs. Make an appointment on your calendar to spend 4-8 hours a week laughing and watch your mood improve!

I love silly comedies. Here's a few of my movies favs:
  • A Fish Called Wanda
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (series)
  • Airplane (series)
  • Arthur
  • Austin Powers (series)
  • Beetlejuice
  • Caddyshack
  • Dumb & Dumber
  • Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin movies
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • National Lampoon's Animal House
  • National Lampoon's Vacation
  • Ocean's Eleven (series)
  • Patch Adams
  • Romancing the Stone
  • Silent Movie
  • SilverStreak
  • Snowball Express
  • Stripes
  • The Birdcage
  • The Jerk
  • The Life of Brian
  • Trading Places
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Thow Momma from the Train
  • Wayne's World (series)

Here are some of my TV comedy show favs:

  • Alf
  • Bewitched
  • Carol Burnett Show
  • Chapelle's Show
  • Cheers
  • Fawlty Towers
  • Frasier
  • Friends
  • Green Acres
  • In Living Color
  • Monty Python
  • Mork & Mindy
  • Red Skelton
  • Scrubs
  • Saturday Night Live (70's shows)
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • The Jonathan Winters Show
  • The Flip Wilson Show
  • The Simpsons
  • Will & Grace

To your health!

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Carrie Arnold said...

"A Fish Called Wanda" is a family favorite. So is "Ruthless People."

Have you tried a sun lamp? I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, and sitting in front of one for about 20 min/day is supposed to really help. I strive for early evening because a) I'm NOT getting up earlier and b) that's when I miss the light, anyways.

Lori Hanson said...

Thanks for you comment. Actually I cheated. I moved in Southern California in '06. - Lori