Sunday 1st April 2012
- Laugh away heart problems - seriously
For much of the country we have seen the last of our early season sunshine.
Records for average daily temperature in March have been tumbling almost daily over the previous weeks.
For some people this has created more than their fair share of headaches.
I have very much enjoyed the sunshine, but many of my friends have not been so lucky... let me tell you why.
Relax away that headache
Our bodies are brilliant in trying to defend us from all sorts of noxious influences.
In particular our eyes are looked after to avoid anything which may damage the delicate membranes and critical neural connections.
So, when we are assaulted by powerful sunlight there are a number of changes that the body makes to stop our retinas being burned.
The main one is to close the iris, the coloured bit around the pupil, which cuts out the majority of light falling onto the back of the eye.
We may also partially close the eyelids and furrow the brow, especially if we are not wearing a hat.
This is what causes the wrinkled foreheads and crow's feet in the corner of our eyes, and can be a common cause of headaches.
A few friends travelled down from the Midlands to see us in the week and they immediately asked for an aspirin when he they walked in the door.
I began to laugh thinking that either they had been on the sauce a little to freely the night before, or were taking the rip out of me because I had railed against the indiscriminate use of this drug as a cure-all last week.
But, it turned out that they were suffering from severe headaches – brought on by driving in the sunlight and concentrating hard on a busy motorway.
This is caused by pure muscle force.
As well as 22 muscles around the eyes there is also a really powerful muscular sling over the top of the head.
When these contract to create the changes around the eye it builds up pressure, and after a little while this leads to a dull, thumping headache.
Well far from reaching into the medicine chest I resorted to a much more relaxing, and effective remedy, my Eye Massager.
Ever since a friend of mine sent this little marvel over from South Africa I have used it regularly to ease aching eyes, soothe tired brows and calm the pain of a headache.
It permanently lives in my study to help massage away the rigours of a day spent reading and writing.
It looks a bit like one of those sleep masks that you get given on long haul flights, but it has a series of little projections on the inside which gently massage around the eye. Once I had overcome the initial self consciousness of wearing this little marvel I quickly came to appreciate the benefits of using it each night.
Well after 15 minutes of gentle rubbing from this device, a glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a comfy chair my friend Pete's headache had cleared and he was chipper enough to ask what was for lunch.
Always a sign that he is back in form, never has a man lived by his appetite – and his sense of humour as much as Pete.
That's why I sent him a gift of a used ticket to the England v Wales rugby game from a few weeks ago with a photo of me in front of the score board... he who laughs last!
Who knows I might just have saved his life.
Laugh away heart troubles
I wanted to end on a note of joy on this national day of pranking.
Maybe a whoppee cushion on your favourite chair, or itching powder in your slippers might not be your idea of a fun filled day, however, the chance to laugh could be a life saver.
A report from the Society for Vascular Surgery shows laughter can be very beneficial for your vascular health.
Their work showed that a good old chortle can increase blood flow, decrease stress hormones like cortisol and increase other chemicals which enhance health such as endorphins.
Last week I told you how us old blokes are happier rather than grumpy, and it may well be that this alone is improving the health of our hearts and blood vessels.
All in all this has been a good week.
I've topped up my vitamin D in the sunshine, exercised my funny bone with a few pranks and I'm looking forward to a few days with the kids around during the Easter holidays.
I hope you enjoy your day and find a little time to on relaxing those eyes.
Yours as always