Haha- I just had to put up this photo. Thank you Robert Nickelsberg, I love this. It's not the best quality reproduction, but this is a laughter club in India where women go to help prevent and treat depression and other medical issues. The practice is called "hasyayog" and I think it is awesome. People who have the resiliency to be able to laugh at problems that come their way are, I believe, much better off as far as their psychological health. This seems like a strange thing to talk about, but I guess I am being given a degree in Clinical & Developmental Psychology in a couple of months, so maybe I should try to share some things I have learned. Having a positive outlook, positive social support, and general hardiness have been clinically found to improve health- even significantly improving one's chances of recovering from cancer in a study done on US women with breast cancer! (Sorry, I can't remember the name of that researcher off the top of my head- its driving me crazy- but if you are interested, let me know and I'll look it up.)
I have also studied a lot about the pressure that stress puts on the body and the psychological and, believe it or not, physical harm that ruminating over your problems can do. Take home message: do something that is relaxing for yourself everyday. I am a huge fan of nighttime rituals, they can really help abate the stress of the day and prepare for a repairing and restful sleep. Get into the habit of listening to Enya, stretching, or reading something positive before going to sleep. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready for bed, begin to relax and de-stress as you wash your face, brush your teeth, etc. so that your mind can be prepared to sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.
Again, I know this is a little odd, but trust me. Just the physical act of smiling, even if you don't mean it, has been clinically found to promote the release of endorphins into your blood stream. So just pretending to be happy can lead you in the right direction! Moral of the story: relax and smile more. Your body, which includes your brain, will thank you.