Healthy and happy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Hormones are an essential part of life. They are largely responsible for our physical, emotional and psychological well-being, and although there are times we’d like to forget we had them, they can help us maintain good health.

As a woman, I must confess, there are definitely moments I would love to throw my hormones out the window, a sentiment, no doubt shared by many other women and their husbands, including my ever-patient husband who is often present for my emotional meltdowns.

For the benefit of men within reading distance of this article, let me just say for the record that PMS is a disease that impairs a woman’s ability to think clearly and be decisive, marked by temporary insanity, mood swings and weirdness, designed to test the boundaries of unsuspecting members of the opposite sex on a monthly basis.

Women are emotional creatures indeed, just ask any man who has been around one long enough and he will surely testify.

So, what is the answer to this age-old problem? Believe it or not, more hormones! Well, specifically, more serotonin, otherwise known as the &uot;happy&uot; hormone.

Even Country/Pop singer/songwriter Shania Twain seems to understand that, and in what I believe is a perfectly fitting tribute to hormonal instability; she discusses the mental, physical and emotional aspects of the strange phenomenon. With lyrics from a song entitled, &uot;Up,&uot; she writes, &uot;It’s ’bout as bad as it could be, seems everybody’s buggin’me, like nuthin’ wants to go my way, yeah it just ain’t been my day nuthin’s comin’ easily.&uot;

In that sentence alone, she embodies feelings most people can identify with at some point in their lives.

With a knack for mixing humor with raw truth, she depicts the sometimes overwhelming desire we have to crawl under the nearest rock and hide stating, &uot;Even my skin is actin’ weird, I wish that I could grow a beard, then I could cover up my spots, not play connect the dots, I just wanna disappear…&uot;

Can I get a witness? Come on ladies, where would we be without Avon and Mary Kay? I don’t think there’s a woman on the planet that hasn’t felt like that. Even the most beautiful ladies have had their moments; just take a look at the Star and Enquirer next time you’re standing in line at the supermarket and notice the un-retouched photos of unsuspecting celebrities.

Sometimes I think they have to laugh to keep from crying with the kind of photos these paparazzi publish, but each of us has our moments. Life is simply a challenge to see who can make it another day and without a sense of humor, many of us would absolutely lose our sanity.

Plainly put, laughter is good medicine. Young or old, male or female, we all need comic relief. Studies have even shown that smiling is linked to the production of serotonin, which leads to improved function of the immune system.

One study on laughter revealed that four-year old children laugh and smile an average of 400 times a day, while their adult counterparts only smile and laugh an average of 14 times a day. Man, do we need a dose of hormones or what?

Obviously, adults have more on their plate than the average four-year old, but there is a lesson there.

In the newsroom, I frequently get my dose when I’m working under deadline, close to pulling my hair out when someone slips in a joke of funny comment that saves the day. Being caught in the crossfire of Cal Bryant and David Taylor’s warped attempts at humor, what other choice do I have?

One of my favorite commercials on TV is the one where a middle-class guy is displaying all of his new stuff. Straining to smile, he looks into the camera and says something to the effect of, &uot;Like my house, it’s new…like my car, it’s new too.&uot;

He goes on explaining how he is even a member of an elite golf club and asks the question most people striving towards the American dream are probably wondering. On his riding lawnmower, with his smile still plastered to his face, he says, &uot;How do I do it all? I’m in debt up to my eyeballs. I can barely make my monthly payments…somebody help me.&uot;

I laugh every time I see that commercial. It’s just what I need at the end of a taxing day. Everybody has those days and everybody has moments they feel like crying, but regardless of whether those times are caused by unfortunate circumstance, stress or hormonal imbalances like PMS, we can all benefit from a little humor.

So lighten up, smile at a neighbor, hug your wife, rent a comedy, pop in some Shania, but whatever you do, make sure laughter is part of your daily routine. Maybe then we can all be healthy, hormonal and happy!