How to be naturally funny

Are you a naturally funny person? Do people find you hilarious?

Still, humor is an important communication tool and an essential discipline for any writer to learn.

If you learn how to be funny, you will woo and inspire audiences. You will warm them up so you can deliver the full impact of your message.

And if you don’t, well, you may just have to wake them up before you finish.

But if you’re like me, and things like humor and satire are difficult for you, then you may need some help. You may need some convincing as to why you shouldn’t stop trying to be funny, altogether.

Why humor matters

Some writers think you don’t have to be funny. Or witty or clever, for that matter. They believe that making people laugh is somehow a lesser form of communicating.

Which is true if you’re drafting instructions for assembling a stereo.

But if your aim is to move people, to create an emotional connection, then you have no choice. You have to be funny. Even if you’re not. You have to find a way.

Three ways to be humorous

I’ve always struggled with being funny.

At my worst, I was awkward. At my best, I was snarky and often offensive. My humor was often misunderstood (still is, sometimes). What I’ve found, though, is that every person is funny in their own way. And even an old dog can learn new tricks.

You don’t have to force it, but it won’t just happen, either. If you’re going to find your humor voice, it will take practice. Here are three ways to do it:

  • State the obvious.
  • Be subtle.
  • Surprise your audience.

So what does it take be funny?

How do you put all this together and make people chuckle, snicker and laugh? Good question.

I wrote about that today for my friend Joe’s website, The Write Practice. In it, I share a few different examples of how to be funny.

Hopefully, this article will help you find your own way to entertain and engage audiences, to give your message the best chance at success by getting people to lower their guards.

Do you think you’re funny? (Be honest.) Why or why not? Share in the comments.

Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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How to be naturally funny

Being a starving artist is a choice.

Bestselling author and creativity expert Jeff Goins dismantles the myth that being creative is a hindrance to success by revealing how an artistic temperament is, in fact, a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

For centuries, the myth of the starving artist has dominated our culture, seeping into the minds of creative people and stifling their pursuits. But the truth is that the world’s most successful artists did not starve. In fact, they capitalized on the power of their creative strength. In Real Artists Don’t Starve, Jeff Goins debunks the myth of the starving artist by unveiling the ideas that created it and replacing them with fourteen rules for artists to thrive.

How to be naturally funny

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Photos: David Cook (2), Getty Images, Roger Cabello, Getty Images, Roger Cabello, Franz Walderdorff

How to be naturally funny

Wear Red.

Yes, it’s that simple. A bit of crimson has the power to put men in a lusty state of mind—one study even found they were 56 percent more likely to ask out a woman in a red top versus a white one. That’s because men are hardwired to respond to the hue: The color was used as early as 10,000 B.C. in lip color and blush to mimic the red flush we get when we’re turned on. Throw on a red dress and let primal instincts take over.

Smile

It’s no surprise that anyone would be drawn to a megawatt grin, but what is fascinating is that a smile amps up how sexy you seem, according to a recent study. “A friendly and approachable woman may seem more sexually interested,” researchers at the University of British Columbia told Allure. We can’t vouch for the science on this part, but a little whitening could be nice, too. We like Crest 3D White 2 Hour Express Whitestrips, which brighten teeth in two hours.

. Except on Your Lips

One study found that the lipstick shades men find most attractive are neutrals or soft pinks. Steer clear of anything Nicki Minaj–inspired and take cues from your natural color, picking something a few shades pinker. Women with fair skin look best in sheer rose (like L’Oréal Paris Infallible Le Rouge lipstick in Eternal Rose). Medium-toned skin pairs well with pinks with brown undertones; sheer formulas (like Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Balm in Bountiful Blush) are extra flattering and hard to overdo. If you have a dark complexion, look for wine-y pinks—one supershiny formula is Lipstick Queen Jean Queen Lip Gloss.

Choose the Right Perfume

We asked perfumers for the sexiest notes, and they all came back with the same answer: lush flowers, vanilla and amber, and powdery notes. One of our favorite seductive scents is Chanel No. 19 Poudre: French for “powder,” this scent’s fresh iris root tempers the heady jasmine. Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Sublime, with zesty orange blossom and intoxicating neroli, is warm, like a beach vacation in a bottle. Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge isn’t for the faint of heart, or head. Ford tossed in the whole spice cabinet—cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger are sweetened by vanilla and warm amber.

Dim the Lights

It goes without saying that candlelight is sexy (there’s a reason most Instagram filters wash everyone in a hazy glow), and the best way to flatter exposed skin is with a shimmery body cream. Dust Urban Decay’s Honey Body Powder over your shoulders and décolletage, where light will naturally enhance it. We love it because it’s a superfine, subtle, somehow grown-up shimmer, and—wait for it—it’s lickable. Just saying.

Add Mega Shine to Your Hair

Practically nothing about Victoria’s Secret models is attainable—except possibly their shiny, soft hair. To achieve Angel-worthy gloss, try these shine-boosting techniques: Condition first, shampoo second. “For hair to be full and bouncy, it has to be free of residue,” says hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins. Then rough-dry hair by raking your fingers through it; if you want sexy volume, you have to embrace a little fluff. And when you think your hair’s dry, blast it with heat for another three minutes. “It has to be 100 percent dry, otherwise it will collapse,” says Hawkins. Mist a shine spray like Umberto Beverly Hills Shimmer Shine Spray over the whole head and voilá—you’re halfway to Gisele.

Photos: David Cook (2), Getty Images, Roger Cabello, Getty Images, Roger Cabello, Franz Walderdorff

How to be naturally funny

Wear Red.

Yes, it’s that simple. A bit of crimson has the power to put men in a lusty state of mind—one study even found they were 56 percent more likely to ask out a woman in a red top versus a white one. That’s because men are hardwired to respond to the hue: The color was used as early as 10,000 B.C. in lip color and blush to mimic the red flush we get when we’re turned on. Throw on a red dress and let primal instincts take over.

Smile

It’s no surprise that anyone would be drawn to a megawatt grin, but what is fascinating is that a smile amps up how sexy you seem, according to a recent study. “A friendly and approachable woman may seem more sexually interested,” researchers at the University of British Columbia told Allure. We can’t vouch for the science on this part, but a little whitening could be nice, too. We like Crest 3D White 2 Hour Express Whitestrips, which brighten teeth in two hours.

. Except on Your Lips

One study found that the lipstick shades men find most attractive are neutrals or soft pinks. Steer clear of anything Nicki Minaj–inspired and take cues from your natural color, picking something a few shades pinker. Women with fair skin look best in sheer rose (like L’Oréal Paris Infallible Le Rouge lipstick in Eternal Rose). Medium-toned skin pairs well with pinks with brown undertones; sheer formulas (like Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Balm in Bountiful Blush) are extra flattering and hard to overdo. If you have a dark complexion, look for wine-y pinks—one supershiny formula is Lipstick Queen Jean Queen Lip Gloss.

Choose the Right Perfume

We asked perfumers for the sexiest notes, and they all came back with the same answer: lush flowers, vanilla and amber, and powdery notes. One of our favorite seductive scents is Chanel No. 19 Poudre: French for “powder,” this scent’s fresh iris root tempers the heady jasmine. Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Sublime, with zesty orange blossom and intoxicating neroli, is warm, like a beach vacation in a bottle. Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge isn’t for the faint of heart, or head. Ford tossed in the whole spice cabinet—cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger are sweetened by vanilla and warm amber.

Dim the Lights

It goes without saying that candlelight is sexy (there’s a reason most Instagram filters wash everyone in a hazy glow), and the best way to flatter exposed skin is with a shimmery body cream. Dust Urban Decay’s Honey Body Powder over your shoulders and décolletage, where light will naturally enhance it. We love it because it’s a superfine, subtle, somehow grown-up shimmer, and—wait for it—it’s lickable. Just saying.

Add Mega Shine to Your Hair

Practically nothing about Victoria’s Secret models is attainable—except possibly their shiny, soft hair. To achieve Angel-worthy gloss, try these shine-boosting techniques: Condition first, shampoo second. “For hair to be full and bouncy, it has to be free of residue,” says hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins. Then rough-dry hair by raking your fingers through it; if you want sexy volume, you have to embrace a little fluff. And when you think your hair’s dry, blast it with heat for another three minutes. “It has to be 100 percent dry, otherwise it will collapse,” says Hawkins. Mist a shine spray like Umberto Beverly Hills Shimmer Shine Spray over the whole head and voilá—you’re halfway to Gisele.

How to stay in contact with your college friends, kickball team, and siblings without sometimes wanting to throw your phone away.

By David Nield March 11, 2019

You don’t need to be a social butterfly to find yourself ensnared in half a dozen group chats across several apps. And while group chats are great for staying in touch and making plans, they’re also great for irritating you when you’re trying to get some work done.

Notifications ping you at all hours of the day, stacks of unread messages build up until they aren’t worth the effort to catch up on, and important information gets lost in the stream. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Below are 10 ways to improve your group chatting experience.

1. Tweak your notifications

If you’re getting overloaded with alerts, change the way your chat notifications appear. You can make those pings silent and/or invisible easily on both Android and iOS.

On Android, open up Settings then go to Apps & notifications and choose an app to make changes. On iOS, you can take even more control over the style of alerts: From Settings, pick Notifications, then tap on a particular messaging app to see the available options.

2. Mute noisy conversations

You can also silence individual conversations temporarily. This is useful if you want to make sure alerts from certain people come through, while limiting the number of pings you get from all your college friends discussing a concert you can’t attend.

Most messaging tools let you mute conversations for a period, and the option should be easy to find in your app of choice. In WhatsApp for Android, for example, tap the menu button (three dots, top right), then choose Mute notifications and pick a time period.

3. Switch to the web

Many chatting apps—more than you might realize!—have desktop versions that help you carry on the conversation in your browser. It makes typing and reading through threads easier, and helps with sharing photos and searching for messages posted a long time ago.

You can get WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram on the web for example, while Apple’s iMessage can also be accessed from the desktop on macOS. Just sign in with your usual account credentials and you’ve got easy access to all of your group conversations.

4. Say it with GIFs

Using more GIFs—or short animated clips—means less clutter and more entertainment in your group chats. Just about every chat app out there supports GIFs, which means you can drop in moving pictures to quickly convey ideas. For instance, in Facebook Messenger for iOS, tap the emoticon button on the right then GIFs to take your pick of images.

5. Search through messages

Trying to find an old message feels futile, but in fact the majority of messaging apps for Android and iOS now have relatively competent search facilities to make going back through history simple.

Take WhatsApp for example: In the Android version of the app, you can tap the menu button (three dots, top right) then Search to look for something specific. In the iOS version of WhatsApp, you need to tap on the group name at the top to find the search option.

6. Take back what you said

You might have noticed a number of chat apps introducing an unsend feature, or the ability to take back what you said. This is great, because plans are easy to clarify, which means fewer messages overall. Plus, if you accidentally send a private message to the group, you’ll be relieved to expunge it from the record.

Facebook Messenger is one of the chat apps that now has this superpower built into it. On the iOS or the Android version of the app, you can press and hold on a particular message then choose Remove and Remove for everyone up to 10 minutes after sending it.

7. Share your location

More people should share their locations with the group. It would save dozens of typed messages about current location and ETA. Most group messaging apps now include the feature. In the Messages app on iOS, it can be found by tapping the information button(top right) in a conversation, then Share My Location.

8. Save your chat history

You can also save or export your chats, which is handy if you’re moving between different devices, or want to keep a record of what’s been said.

WhatsApp has some of the best backup and archive options. From the Settings page on iOS or Android, tap Chats then Chat backup to choose a backup method (like iCloud or Google Drive) and to make sure your conversations are regularly saved.

9. Clear your chat history

Maybe instead of backing up chats you want to delete them. This could be for privacy or legal reasons, or due to personal preference. The Messages app that comes as part of iOS does this particularly well, though it’s available in other apps too. From the iOS Settings screen, tap Messages then Keep Messages—you can choose to keep them forever, or for a year, or for just 30 days.

10. Leave a group chat

Sometimes you’ve got no other option but to leave a group chat—the notifications have become too much, the conversation has become increasingly irrelevant, and your phone has become cluttered with too many group chats for you to really keep tabs on them.

You should be able to find the exit button fairly easily in most of the messaging apps you use. In the case of group chats on Instagram, for example, you can tap the header banner in a group conversation to see its participants, then tap on Leave Conversation to quit it.

How to be naturally funny

“Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart.”

Remember when life was simple?

When your friends were the most important thing in the world. When a snow day was a perfect excuse to have fun, not a block of time when you felt guilty about being unproductive.

When the ice cream truck could make your day, no matter what happened before. Bad grade? Big deal—it’s snow cone time. Skinned knee—who cares, you have a screwball!

If only you could bottle that sense of freedom, fun, and enthusiasm for the little things, you could carry it in your responsible adult pocket and take a swig when you started taking everything too seriously.

I don’t know about you, but mine would be in a glass vial embellished with red, pink, and purple swirleys, topped with a water globe stopper that had a palm tree in it. (Yeah—that’s right!)

Maybe we don’t need some major departure from business as usual to stop being stuffy and start being childlike (which can actually help you become more innovative, in case sheer joy isn’t motivation enough).

I’ve compiled a list of ideas to be more childlike today. I chose thirty-three because it’s the house number where my parents live, and it’s because of them I am the best couch cushion fort maker on both the east and west coasts. Enjoy:

Learn

1. Read a book you loved as a kid. My book of choice: Oh the Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss.

2. Figure out how something works, even if it’s irrelevant to your life, just because it’s interesting. Go ahead—Google “how fish breathe” or something you don’t fully understand.

3. Fill out your own permission slip to go to the aquarium, a museum, or a nearby tourist attraction. If something looks interesting, take a break and go!

4. Do something fun. Make a Lego village, pull out the coloring book, or jump rope.

5. Explore. Walk around your block without any intention. Just see what’s going on, maybe even using a big fallen branch as a walking stick.

6. Run or skip if you feel like it. Flail your arms, like Phoebe in my favorite episode of Friends.

7. Be silly. Look for funny things in your day—they’re always there—and let yourself laugh about them.

8. Try a new look. Think the kid from Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy, when he dressed himself, but a little less ridiculous.

Share

9. Remember something awesome and call a friend to share it. (i.e.: ‘Member the time we made pizza for breakfast? That was awesome, huh?)

10. Tell someone they’re your hero. If you admire what they do, look right in their eyes and say, “I think you’re pretty awesome.”

11. Be a know it all. Tell someone about something you learned today and get excited about sharing it.

12. Tell it like it is. Don’t be a liar, liar, pants on fire. As Dr. Seuss said, “Say what you mean and mean what you say because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

13. Be vulnerable. Tell someone how you feel or what you really want to be when you grow up, without making them pinky swear to take it to the grave.

14. Share a meal with people around a table, even if it isn’t a special occasion, like that Norman Rockwell painting families often recreate.

Connect

15. Tell your mom and dad (or favorite relative) you love them. Call them right now and say it for no reason other than it being true.

16. Make a spontaneous play date. Invite people over right now, for no reason but to have fun, even if you have plans scheduled for the weekend with them.

17. Eat lunch on a rock with a friend. You don’t need a restaurant or a cafeteria. Channel the good old days from camp when a little sand in your PB & J meant a lunchtime adventure.

18. Ask for help if you need it. Just like you used to pull your desk next to someone else’s to read along, walk up to someone you trust and let them be there for you.

19. Tap into your innocence—meaning give someone the benefit of the doubt, as if you don’t know yet to be cynical.

Create

20. Make a card by hand to give to someone you care about. As Pablo Picasso said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

21. Get messy when you’re cooking. Not tomato-sauce-on-the-ceiling-fan messy. The point is: let loose and enjoy yourself instead of making cooking a chore.

22. Start a piggy bank. Or a coin jar. You don’t need to save big to save, and you never know what little adventures you can have with just a little extra cash.

23. Try a hands-on project from the Be Creative! Adults section of the Creativity Portal, like gum wrapper origami.

24. Assume you’d be really good at something—piano, rock climbing, organizing a club—and then find out instead of assuming the opposite.

25. Sit criss-cross in your chair if you’re able. Crossed-legged sitting is actually really good for your posture—an added bonus!

26. Surround yourself with your favorite color. If orange makes you smile, plaster orange pictures all over your cubicle.

27. Cry if you need to. If the day gets difficult, don’t try to be a hero. When you let yourself feel it, you’re better able to let it go.

28. Relax and do nothing. Don’t try to fill that empty pocket of time. You’ve been productive enough. Kick back, cut loose, and let yourself waste a little time. As John Lennon said, “Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted.”

Imagine

29. Forget what was tough about yesterday. Why dwell on that fight with your sister when you could be having fun today?

30. Change your mind easily. According to Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, kids’ brains are extremely flexible, “so they can change what they think based on new evidence very quickly and easily.”

31. Visualize a tomorrow with endless possibilities. Not sure you can be the person you want to be? Read 10 Ways to Be the Person You Wanted to Be as a Kid.

32. Don’t take no for an answer. If there’s something you want to do, be persistent. You can make it happen!

33. Ignore something someone says if it limits you, your potential or your possibilities.

Have anything to add to the list? Go for it. I double dog dare you…

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She’s also the author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal and other books and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. She recently launched a Mindfulness Kit to help reduce our stress and increase our peace and joy. For daily wisdom, join the Tiny Buddha list here. You can also follow Tiny Buddha on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hulbert writes about motivation, doing whatever he can to help put people in a position to create a better life for themselves. Read full profile

How to be naturally funny

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“The human race has only one effective weapon, and that is laughter.” -Mark Twain

If you want to impress somebody, make them laugh. If you want to connect with someone new, make them laugh. If you want to get a raise from your boss, make him laugh. If you want to take yourself out of a completely miserable situation, make yourself laugh. And if you want to change the world, make the world laugh. What’s the easiest way to make someone laugh? Tell a joke.

Some people are good at telling jokes, but have no idea how the jokes come out of their mouths. These people are naturally funny. But if you are not one of these people or have always had a problem with being funny, don’t sweat. Understand that all jokes have a formula behind them that makes them funny; otherwise, it’s not funny and that’s not a joke. Here are the ingredients to tell a joke. I’ll walk you through it step-by-step.

The Anatomy of a Joke and Its Formula

1. Target. Every joke begins with a target, and it can be targeting anything – people, places, ideas, etc. The most important thing to remember here is to relate the target to the person or people you’re telling the joke to, so they won’t be offended. For example, if you were telling a joke to your friends about your wife, you’re friends are going to laugh with you because they can relate. But if you were to tell that same joke to your wife, she’s not going to crack a smile. She’ll just slowly stare you down while you slowly tiptoe out of the room.

2. Hostility. I know some people are going to cringe at this, but the truth is jokes aren’t always “nice”. The essence of a joke is usually going against an idea or a type of person, but because the joke is funny (if you can pull it off the right way), it usually loosens the tension and eradicates all hostile feelings at the end. If you don’t get this, ask yourself if you have ever heard of a joke that was between two perfectly happy people? Take a look at these examples and see if you can pinpoint the target and who the joke is making fun of.

  • “Artificial hearts are nothing new. Politicians have had them for years.” -Mack McGinnis
  • “My wife said that her wildest sexual fantasy would be if I got my own apartment. -Rodney Dangerfield

3. Realism. Jokes aren’t funny unless there is some truth in them. You can’t just go in and start telling something ridiculous because first of all, the audience won’t be able to relate to it and secondly, you won’t get a chance to surprise them. Humor is a paradox. It’s funny because you’re juxtaposing the reasonable next to the unreasonable. If you don’t understand this, just remember that the more you can start a joke in a serious, casual way, the higher the payoff will be towards the end. For example, imagine if somebody with a straight face walked up to you and said:

  • “If you think the world is normal, why do hot dogs come in packages of ten and hot dog buns come in packages of eight?”

4. Exaggeration. If you have a realistic setup from the previous step, then the next step is to exaggerate the second part of the joke. You want to make it “just a little bit more” out there than what human beings expect. The more you can exaggerate it but not completely ruin it by not saying something that’s completely unrelated or random at the end, the funnier it will be. In essence, could you exaggerate the joke as far as you can and yet make it still believable at the same time?

  • “You know, it was pretty hot yesterday. I saw a dog chasing after a cat, and they were both walking.”

5. Emotion. Why do human beings laugh? Biologically speaking, it is because there is a release in our emotions. That’s why this step is so crucial. For any joke to be hilarious –
I mean out-of-this-room hilarious – you to learn how build up anticipation. You want to person or group of people you’re telling the joke to feel like what’s coming next? You want to keep them guessing, on their toes, biting their nails, and leaning over their seat waiting for an answer that they will expect to hear. Here are some ways to create anticipation.

“Take my wife – please!” -Henny Youngman

  • The Question

“Okay class. Calm down. Who wants to hear the latest dope?”

“Well, well, well… Here I am.”

6. Surprise. Alright so we’ve come to the last step of the joke and perhaps the most vital one and that is the surprise. No surprise, no joke. When you go through steps 1 through 5, your audience or whoever you’re telling the joke to is going to expect something. So what do you do? Give them the unexpected. Imagine if a pitcher threw a ball and right before the batter hits it, it curves, and then flies out of the ball park. It’s sort of like that. The more anticipation and the greater the surprise, the funnier the joke, and the greater the laugh.

“He may not be able to sing, but he can act pretty well.”

“He may not be able to sing, and he sure can’t dance either.”

So let’s review again.

Every joke begins with a target. The target can be anything from dogs and cats to lawyers or bosses. Just remember to cater the joke to the right audience. The joke is usually going to be hostile in some way, shape, or form. It’s going to make fun or someone or something, but usually the end result will not even make the joke seem hostile at all. And if you happen to find yourself to be in the position of where you are one of the nicest or kindest people on earth, like me, then you can always slim down the hostility. It’s okay.

After this, the joke needs to start off real – something that people can relate to and tell themselves that what you’re telling them about is real and there’s nothing to worry about. From there you can build up a story through anticipation or tension, and then give them an exaggerated response that has a surprise ending the blows them away. You choose how you want to go about doing this.

“A man and a woman who have never met before find themselves in the same sleeping carriage of a train. After the initial embarrassment, they both manage to get to sleep; the woman on the top bunk, the man on the lower.

In the middle of the night the woman leans over and says, “I’m sorry to bother you but I’m awfully cold and I was wondering if you could possibly pass me another blanket.”

The man leans out, with a glint in his eye, says, “I’ve got a better idea… let’s pretend we’re married.”

“Why not?” giggles the woman.

“Good,” he replies, “Get your own blanket.”

Final Thoughts

I’m not even going to begin listing the positive traits that humor gives us which include relieving stress, living longer, feeling healthier, and feeling better about your day. If you can master telling a joke, people will like you and you’ll be able to make connections easily. If anything, life will be a lot less seriously and a lot more fun. Opportunities will come to you if you can be funny and people will be attracted to you as well. So now that I have given you the magical formula for being a jokester, do you have any jokes up your sleeve? Why not share one in the comment section below?

“Laugh at yourself for a man is most comical when he takes himself too seriously.” -Og Mandino

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How to be naturally funny

Tony Anderson/Getty Images

The skills of becoming relaxed when necessary and remaining relaxed whenever possible can be transformative and can make a measurable difference in health. This is because living in a state of chronic stress—remaining physiologically stressed over long periods of time, without triggering your body’s relaxation response—can impact your health in a variety of negative ways. Learning to become relaxed readily and easily can bring a healthier and more enjoyable life.

Fortunately, there are several simple ways to become more relaxed quickly and easily. They each bring their own unique benefits, so it’s good to know a variety of techniques that you can use to become relaxed in a pinch.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a terrific way to become relaxed quickly and easily. They can be done by just about anyone, anywhere, and at any time. Slowing your breathing, breathing from your diaphragm, and even using a breathing visualization are ways to use breathing exercises to relax your body and your mind.

Meditation

Meditation is a very old, proven strategy for becoming and remaining more relaxed.   Popular in Eastern cultures for centuries, it’s enjoyed a huge rise in popularity in the West in recent years as researchers have found proven benefits in scientific studies.

Meditation isn’t difficult, but it does take practice. Fortunately, regular practice can help you to feel relaxed during and after each session and, over time, can actually help you to be less reactive to new stress you face.

PMR (Progressive Muscle Relaxation)

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is one of my oft-used methods of getting relaxed quickly. The technique involves tensing and relaxing muscles systematically from head to toe (or from toe to head), thereby releasing tension and ushering in the relaxation response. With practice, this technique allows for total-body relaxation in a matter of seconds. It’s an easy but very effective method of becoming quickly relaxed.

Visualizations

Because the body reacts physically to the imagery created by the mind, visualizations are an effective technique to help you become more relaxed and are as simple and fun as daydreaming. There are many, many different visualizations you can try to get more relaxed and reverse your body’s stress response. You can visualize yourself in a relaxing location, visualize a positive result from a stressful scenario, or, more simply, just visualize tension and stress leaving your body with each breath.

Have a Good Laugh

Laughter is a wonderful, natural way to release tension in your body and get your mind in a better place so your stressors don’t seem so stressful. If you have the time, watching a funny movie or reading a funny book can help you get a little laughter into your day.

But if you don’t have the time in the schedule for that, simply maintaining a sense of humor throughout your regular day can help quite a bit in the way of keeping you relaxed. There are many benefits of laughter.   Strategies for maintaining a sense of humor are great tools for stress relief.

Change Your Perspective

Much of what stresses you comes not from your stressors themselves, but from your response to them. More specifically, your interpretation of your stressors, as well as your approach to dealing with them, can make the events themselves feel much more (or less) stressful.

Fortunately, you can learn to change your thoughts even if you can’t choose different life circumstances. There are also a few ‘tricks’ for gaining a better perspective for remaining relaxed under trying conditions:

  • Practice optimism: You can adopt the thinking style of optimists by interpreting certain facets of a situation in a way that brings hope and reduces self-doubt.
  • Focus on what you can control: You can also adopt the view that you may have more power in a situation than you realize (called having an internal locus of control, which is also known to decrease feelings of stress), and then looking for new solutions.
  • Avoid negative thinking: Finally, be sure that you’re not already sabotaging yourself with overly negative thinking, and become familiar with common distorted thinking patterns, or cognitive distortions. If so, you can become aware of them and better manage this type of thinking.

Ongoing Practice Brings Greater Benefits

Each of these practices can be effective for stress relief. However, some may appeal to you more than others, or some may work best in certain situations. Try as many as you can and see what fits best for you.

Whatever strategies you use, practice them, and use them often, and you can maintain a much more relaxed lifestyle. Your stress management efforts will be most effective if you continue to learn about stress and practice stress relief techniques regularly. Stress management resources can help you to find ongoing information and support to help you to manage stress in your life from now on.

Ten Things You Can Do for Your Mental Health

How to be naturally funny

Try these tips to keep your balance, or re-balance yourself.*

1. Value yourself:

Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language.

2. Take care of your body:

Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. Be sure to:

  • Eat nutritious meals
  • Avoid smoking and vaping– see Cessation Help
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise, which helps decrease depression and anxiety and improve moods
  • Get enough sleep. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to a high rate of depression in college students.

3. Surround yourself with good people:

People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.

4. Give yourself:

Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it’s a great way to meet new people. See Fun and Cheap Things to do in Ann Arbor for ideas.

5. Learn how to deal with stress:

Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.

6. Quiet your mind:

Try meditating, Mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy. To get connected, see spiritual resources on Personal Well-being for Students

7. Set realistic goals:

Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don’t over-schedule. You’ll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress toward your goal. Wellness Coaching, free to U-M students, can help you develop goals and stay on track.

8. Break up the monotony:

Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant. See Rejuvenation 101 for more ideas.

9. Avoid alcohol and other drugs:

Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to “self-medicate” but in reality, alcohol and other drugs only aggravate problems. For more information, see Alcohol and Other Drugs.

10. Get help when you need it:

Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives. See Resources for Stress and Mental Health for campus and community resources.

*Adapted from the National Mental Health Association/National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare