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Exercise, Humor may be key to Improving Mood

Posted - Jan. 13, 2004 at 1:20 p.m.



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WACO, Texas _ Moods, including their origins and effect on people, are a very interesting topic.

Have you ever noticed that you wanted to yawn if you observed someone else yawning? Have you ever started laughing just because someone you were watching was laughing? Laughter is contagious and sit-coms use "canned laughter" liberally to provoke audience response.

Elegant, persuasive and mesmerizing speakers often capitalize on their ability to create a certain mood. They suggest certain emotions to their audience by displaying the emotion themselves.

Crowds can be "led" to feel angry, enthusiastic, forgiving, charitable or even saddened by suggestions given to them by the body language of the speaker.

Mood contagion is being researched by psychologists and other mental-health professionals and has been found to be much more prevalent than many had thought.

This spread of emotions from one person to another often occurs very subtly through mechanisms below the level of consciousness and is very important in many situations in life, such as within a family, a business or organization, or simply between two individuals interacting and responding to one another.

Moods can be changed, and some of the following suggestions may be helpful for someone needing assistance in making these changes.

-- Use exercise and physical activity to restore emotional balance. A good workout can often do wonders for depression and anxiety.

-- Relax in a hot tub; take a sauna. Allow your tensed muscles to let go. Therapeutic massage is a fabulous way to improve one's outlook.

-- Try a diversion. Rent a movie, read a book or call a friend.

-- Change the scenery. If you can't leave the house or the office, take a mental trip and find a place of remembered peace and happiness in your mind's eye.

-- Try humor. Even the dreariest situations can be made humorous by exaggeration or by making the situation seem ridiculous.

-- Associate with happy, upbeat people. Their optimistic and positive perspective can become yours over time.

-- Consider seeking professional evaluation if moods become a chronic problem.

Just as a storm cloud passes away, so can a bad mood. First alert yourself to recognizing the mood when it appears, and then practice techniques to change the mood.

Hap LeCrone is a Waco clinical psychologist. If you have questions or topics you would like him to discuss, write to him at 4555 Lake Shore Drive, Waco 76710 or e-mail him at hlecron@ol.com.

Cox News Service

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