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Victoria Munro of Make-it-FlyLaughter—Good Medicine for Stress
By Victoria Munro

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Running a business can be stressful in any economy, but today’s media coverage of gloomy economic news makes it even more challenging. Focusing on negative reports increases stress that has harmful effects on our health. Recent reports from several health organizations agree that Americans are experiencing a dramatic increase in stress. Laughter is a healthy and effective antidote for stress. In tough times, more than ever we need to lighten up and laugh.

Laughter, even smiling, has been proven to reduce stress. Patty Wooten, an expert in the field of therapeutic humor, writes, “Finding humor in a situation and laughing freely with others can be a powerful antidote to stress. Our sense of humor gives us the ability to find delight, experience joy and release tension.” Young children, who spend much of their time playing, reportedly laugh about 400 times a day, compared with 15 times a day for adults. The pressures of life often rob us of the ability to see humor or fun in situations and ease our stress with a good laugh.

A counselor I know understands well the value of play. She keeps small wind-up toys on her desk and, when tempted to feel stressed, a two- or three-minute 'play break' with these toys replaces any tension with relaxation and fun.

Taking time out to play can be a challenge for busy entrepreneurs, but play brings balance to our lives and can be an excellent solution to stress. Barbara Brannen holds the title “Top Banana” at one of her companies Playmore, which helps corporations use the power of play to reduce employee turnover and absenteeism. Her play workshops increase employee enthusiasm, creativity and commitment, which in turn boost company profits.

A call center, which is typically an extremely stressful work environment with high turnover, used her services to resolve the problem. Not only did they achieve great staff retention, but now 80 percent of new hires are referred by existing employees. Fun can change attitudes and the entire atmosphere in a company.

Tips for Playing More by Barbara Brannen

1. Start your day with no stress by smiling as soon as you rise in the morning. This simple trick has you beginning stress-free as a baseline for the rest of your day.

2. Continue this by making your commute fun. Find new ways to approach what used to be a stressor. An informal study by a major newspaper found that 80 percent of the negative interactions in the first two hours of the day were directly related to something that happened during the commute. So listen to fun music, sing along, smile at other commuters and don't let them drive you crazy!

3. Keep bubbles or bubble gum in your desk drawer and the console of your car. When you feel stressed or get stuck, blow bubbles for five minutes and open up your mind.

4. Keep things in and around your work area that make you laugh and smile. Look at them frequently for inspiration.

5. Schedule “play dates” for yourself and with family and friends. Put these on your calendar. Just knowing they are coming will reduce your stress and keep you playful.

(617 words)
© 2005-2008 Victoria Munro.

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About the Author: Victoria Munro is co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly® LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for small-business owners through creatively designed programs and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,” at:, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.

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