Laugh out loud -- a lot. It's good for you.
Elaine Lundberg, a humor therapist and author, brought that message to the nearly 300 women (and about three men) at the 10th Annual Women's Wellness Forum.
The benefits of laughter should be taken seriously. A good belly laugh has the same mental health benefits as aerobics.
"Women and Stress -- Now That's Funny" was the theme of Lundberg's keynote address March 15.
"Stress is always a choice. You can lighten up or tighten up," she said.
"Laughter doesn't cure or heal, but it helps."
She said take a lesson from a 4-year-old about minimizing stress in your life and follow a 4-year-old's rules for life:
1. It's more fun to color outside the lines.
2. Ask why until you understand.
3. Hang on tight.
4. Make up the rules as you go along.
5. Always ask for sprinkles.
6. If you're drawing a horse and someone says it's a nice dog, say it's a dog.
7. Save a place in line for your friends.
8. Just keep banging on the door until someone lets you inside.
9. When mom is mad, don't let her brush your hair.
10. When your dad asks ‘Do I look stupid?' don't answer.
Lundberg recommends laughing 400 to 500 times a day. Don't stress about laughing that much all at once, work up to it. Try laughing 20 times a day, she said.
For a start, she offered this, "Happiness is waking up and seeing your boss' picture on the milk carton."
She also suggested keeping a humor therapy file of cartoons or sayings that make you laugh and either pulling something out of the file when you need a laugh or putting one of them up in your office to look at all through the day.
"Have a toy -- bubbles are good."
If you can laugh so hard you cry, count yourself doubly blessed. Tears of joy are healthy, Lundberg said.
Wellness is the primary focus of the annual forum, but education and information about other topics are offered as well. The wellness topics included: women and heart disease, stress management, body mapping and recognizing cancer. The event also included programs on toe reading, financial independence, car trouble, easy home repairs and healthy, decadent desserts.
Mike Wicks, who has operated a garage in Payson for more than 20 years, but recently retired, presented the program on car trouble. He said if a car is properly maintained, it should run for up to 250,000 miles.
"The only tools you need to carry in your car are an old wash cloth and a tire gauge," Wicks said. Use the cloth to check the fluids (oil and transmission), he said. You should be able to see through it. "If it is too dark to see the marks on the rod it's time to change it," he said. He said you should check the oil about every two weeks and you will know when it is time to change it.
Use the tire gauge to make sure your tires are properly inflated. "Everything you need to know about your tires is printed on the side of every tire," Wicks said.
"The most important thing you can do to help yourself keep your car operating at its best is to find a shop you can trust," he said.
With a well-maintained vehicle, you can expect to spend between $250 and $500 a year on maintenance.
Dane Owens, manager of the Payson Home Depot presented the home repair program. He showed some simple tools including something called a "Zipit" -- a long, thin strip of plastic with serrated edges for unclogging drains in sinks and tubs; an all-in-one screwdriver, with multiple, interchangeable heads that eliminates the need for a collection of different screwdrivers; and Rain-X, which was made for car windshields (it causes water to bead up), to coat sinks, shower doors and the sides of tubs for easier cleanup.
Owens also talked about simple plumbing and electrical repairs.
Some of the wellness topics incorporated non-traditional techniques. Body mapping was one of these. Presented by Vivian Seville, a massage therapist, the focus of the program was using the Bach Flower Body Mapping system and being "Cell-lingual." Essentially when there is pain in a particular part of the body it is related to some stressful event in your past, Seville said. Using different techniques of massage, essential oils, flower essences and healing herbs, that event is brought to the present, dealt with and put to rest.
Many of the presenters work in the Rim Country and are available for appointments.