|Posted on April 1, 2018 at 10:30 AM|
Don't you hate it when your significant other puts plastic wrap under the toilet seat and you get urine all over the place? Or they tape the sink sprayer and when you turn on the water to fill your coffee pot you get a sprayed with the water? And on and on the pranks have gone over the years. Back and forth to one up the your significant other or siblings and get them back for last years joke. These pranks likely come from a place of mischief, creativity and fun and are not meant to harm you, however the effects of these pranks may actually cause you stress and perhaps even anger you and stimulate you to retaliate. While this may be true, in the end they are meant to be a celebration of harmless practical jokes and hoaxes that ultimately make you smile or laugh. All Fools’ Day is a day of merriment and rejoicing. It received its name from the custom of playing practical jokes on this day—for example, telling friends that their shoelaces are untied or sending them on so-called fools’ errands. You have likely grown up taking part in April Fools' Pranks, either creatively plotting to come up with the best prank and keeping a poker face as you act it out and wait for the response. Or perhaps you have been the recipient of the prank from jokster friends and family members being left embarassed, frustrated and possibly angry?
You may wonder why I am writing about this topic today, partly because it is a form of stress - to be startled, where your cortisol levels increase and you enter into fight, flight or freeze. This is the bodies natural stress response and even a whimsical prank can cause you stress. It is not really about the prank itseld, but more to share how to release your body from the stress response. Before going into stress and how to get out of the stress response I thought it may be interesting to learn where April Fools' Day even came from. Why did this day of trickery start? Have you ever wondered why April Fools' Day exists? Where it originated from and why it still continues year after year?
If you are like me, you Googled the history of April Fools' Day for the fun of it. And there are at least 3 theories behind the origin.
The first theory is that it is connected to the Ancient Roman times where they would celebrate Hilaria. Hilaria was a late March, end of winter celebration where people would dress up in costumes and disguises.
The second theory ties to the Vernal (Spring) Equinox and more around the tricky weather that comes with the start of spring. Perhaps this is where the saying, 'In like a lamb, out like a lion', came from?
And the third theory is from the 1500's in France when the calendar was moved from the Julian to the Gregorian. In the Julian calendar New Years Day was celebrated on April 1st. With the new Gregorian calendar New Years Day now moved to January 1st. The theory is that not everyone got the memo and those who continued to celebrate on April 1st were deemed Fools. As a side note, the original reason to introduce the Gregorian calendar was to change the date of Easter.
So, lets go back, you were just tricked by someone you care about and your body has jumped into the stress response. This is an acute stress response, also known as hyperarousal, although you are likely not under a threat of harm your body is wired by a biological or physiological reaction that responses to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. You may experience increased heart rate, increased breathing, sweating, and your body will naturally decrease digestive activity, the liver will release glucose for energy and adrenal glands release cortisol. You react and hopefull you are able to see it for the prank and join the jokester in a belly laugh to release your body of the stress response and reset your bodies ecosystem.
Laughing heals your body - but how? It is a physical release, an internal workout for the abdominal muscles, distraction, reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, and growth hormone, aids in a social connection and can bring a lighthearted perspective and help to get over the perceived stress quicker.
So the next time you are in a position where you are pranked - take pleasure in the history of this days celebrations, release the anger and frustration you endured from the trick and laugh for a healthier, happier you.
So, on this April 1st, 2018 I wish you an amazing day filled with your traditions, whether that is coming up with amazing harmless ideas to prank your friends and families that end in a healing belly laugh for all, time at church to celebrate Easter, watching your children and grandchildren searching for Easter eggs, watching a parade, eating your favorite holiday meal and enjoying social time with those who you love.
Make it a magical day!
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