Much is made of the placebo effect whenever there’s something new in medicine. I would postulate that a lot of the placebo effect is the patient’s attitude. When you feel like you have hope (maybe you think whatever you’re taking is working), stress is reduced. I know from my schooling that once stress hormones are ramped up, they take time to come down. An animal study that stuck with me said there were measurable stress hormones 21 days after the stressor. And those hormones have powerful effects. In the short term, they’re good. They help a body deal with a fight of some sort. Long term stress (like, oh say, a cancer diagnosis) is really bad for a body in all sorts of ways. So whether a person gets stress reduction from a placebo effect, or learns to dance in the rain, there are real and positive effects on overall health.
So this is how I’m dancing these days:
- Getting outside – We’re walking up to the campus and around it as weather permits. Outdoors is good for the soul.
- Smelling the roses, literally – There are rose gardens all over the campus. I smell them every time. Two Middle-Eastern looking men saw that and picked one for me one day, insisting I take it. No one arrested us. Phew!
- Blonde hair – It was probably my new blonde hair that caused them to do this for me. Deciding that if my hair was going to fall out or thin, it would be a great time to try being a blonde. That way, if I didn’t like the color or the upkeep, I at least wouldn’t have to put up with it for long. My friend Whitney made me a coppery blonde and I love it!
- Trying out the Debbie smile – I’ve said this before, but my friend Debbie has the most beautiful smile. She smiles a lot and brightens days. On a particularly heinous trip to WalMart before Christmas, she decided to turn up the normal megawatt smile to vaporize. A young man stopped in his tracks and told her she just made his day. I know I’ve also said this before, but my other best friend Mary Ann and I have the same normal resting scary face. Thus, I am a bit worried that as I try to brighten days with a smile, I may be flashing some sort of maniacal looking grimace at people and scaring them. Maybe with practice, I’ll get better.
- Exploring the neighborhood – Houston has a lot of shopping. All the way from The Galleria (where they won’t even let you in some of the stores unless they like your look) to the Fiesta Mart where apparently most of Houston’s widely varied ethnic groups shop. British, African, Indian, Mexican, South American, German, Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese (I’m tempted to follow that with “Dirty knees…” Just ignore that if it makes no sense and consider yourself blessedly sophisticated), etc. I could kill hours.
- Considering all life’s random events to be blessings – Because they are. Things like the Starbucks right around the corner on our first walk up to MD Anderson at 6am. God knows I need lattes and God provides. Can’t hurt, right?
- Making the trip down and vacation – We stopped at Turner Falls in OK because I’ve always wanted to. It was GORGEOUS. Conversely, I could imagine it being hell on earth during warm summer weekends when there are thousands of people there. For our overnight, we stayed at Huntsville State Park in TX. It was gorgeous and smelled of pine trees. Ahhhh….
Put on your dancin' shoes, my friends. The band is warming up!