An article I read today (by Dr. Matt Brown-Ruegg) suggested to "lighten up" and laugh more, in order to "reduce the presence of stress hormones by nearly half."
While shopping at Safeway tonight with my kids, my daughter pointed to my 1-year old and said, "Uh, Mom, it looks like he might have pooped through his pants." I was wearing a hoodie; I had him propped up on my hip with my left arm wrapped around him. I leaned him over and looked down: there was poop oozing out of the top of his diaper, all over his clothes and all over my sleeve. I started laughing - loud. It was a situation classified beyond any possible nightmare. I laughed all the way to the restroom. I couldn't stop. And it was a good laugh - not a polite, forced laugh to make it appear to my children and others that I was successfully handling a traumatic experience. No, this was a hearty, "this-is-hilarious" laugh. And it actually felt good, really good physiologically.
Other suggestions offered in the article to combat the negative effects of stress: breathe, exercise, get a dose of sunlight every day, and take vitamin B3. Some foods he suggested to eat: oatmeal, salmon, walnuts, and dark chocolate.
It also recommended: get plenty of sleep (at least eight hours each night).
Although we have heard these things over and over again, I think I will actually try to incorporate two of his recommendations in my current lifestyle: to laugh more, and to get more sleep. I think I will start to abide by a strict bedtime of 10 p.m. every night. (Hm, I'll have to start that one tomorrow - since it's now 10:42 p.m.)
Habits are so hard to start (and end) - even for some one who has spent a lot of time studying the complex set of behaviors, attitudes, motivations, relationships, environments, genes, etc. that affect public health behaviors and how to improve them. Oh, so hard. We'll see - if I write it here, it will be harder to go back on, right??