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    Go Ahead and Laugh

    LaughterOne of the hardest things when you are trying to beat depression is how it feeds on itself to keep you trapped. You feel depressed, and you feel guilty for feeling depressed. You blame yourself for all your failings, and feel more depressed from the blame. You need to stop this cycle…but how? To short circuit what your brain is telling you, you need to laugh!

    One of the great things about laughter is that it is involuntary. You can’t decide to laugh. A really good laugh sneaks up on you and hits you by surprise. It is a physical reaction that makes you guffaw, hold your tummy, or cackle so hard you cry. And it is the physical nature of honest laughing that releases endorphins, nature’s feel good medicine, in your brain.

    If that wasn’t enough, when we find something really funny, our brains go through all sorts of complicated functions, in a split second. Things happen in our frontal cortex, synapses fire away. Okay, I’m no scientist, so we’ll just say your brain is so busy laughing, and enjoying what it feels, that it can’t be depressed at the same time.

    Build Your Own Beat Depression Toolkit
    When you are already depressed, it is hard to be interested in much. So you need things at hand that only require the flip of a few switches or opening a book. Dig through the bargain DVD bins, or find funny paperbacks that you can grab later when you need them.

    Stock up on hilarious movies, and make up a list of downloadable ones Research has shown that we laugh more easily with others than alone. If you have a family who is not inclined to let you go to bed and sulk, take the opportunity to curl up on the couch with them and share some laughter together.

    If your family understands your struggle to beat depression, enlist them to find things you can all laugh at. Your depression can make your family feel left out of your life. Laughing together helps reconnect you.

    If you watch movies alone, that’s okay. Let yourself laugh loud and hard.

    Download funny audio books in advance
    Having a good listen ready to plug into your ears can help you on those days when you don’t even think you can get out of bed. Or listen to keep your spirits up while doing routine chores.
    Be careful driving, though. Listening to a Dave Barry book once made me laugh so hard I almost went off the road.

    Dive into laughing with the written word
    Of course the text of a book will be the same whether you listen or read. But your brain is more active when you read for yourself, and reading lets you immerse yourself in another, funnier world. Library book sales, garage sales, used book stores and charity shops are all places to stock up for little money.

    Laughter is a wonderful part of being human. And if we laugh enough, our own lives may not look as bleak after all.

    For lists of funny movies and books, visit:
    http://www.rd.com/advice/the-top-100-funniest-movies-of-all-time/
    http://www.abebooks.com/books/funniest-books-funny-laugh-out-loud/lol-books.shtml

    Sources:
    http://www.memorise.org/brain-articles/laughter-affects-brain-00734.html
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-laughter-may-be-the-best-pain-medicine

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