Laughter is the BEST Medicine
This post is written by Margaret “Peg” Stoudt, RN who is a Referral Liaison with Health Calls Home Health Agency. Peg is probably the most appropriate person I know to write this article, because she practices what she preaches. Laughter surrounds her. Thanks for your contribution to our daily laughs, Peg, and for the blog post too!
My father was not a doctor but he definitely healed many with his gift of laughter and humor. Lucky for me, he passed this priceless and infinite gift to me! Laughter has helped me with many life challenges and I am forever grateful to my Dad.
I personally believe if we could all find more laughter, we would all feel lighter, better, healthier, and most of all happier. Laughter is the gift that keeps on giving and it is always free. Laughter is universal as it sounds the same in different cultures and dialects.
Researchers believe laugher can be the best medicine to help you feel better physically and emotionally as it is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. However, we must get serious about laughter, because I am sad to report that on an average children laugh 400-500 times/day and adults on an average laugh ONLY 18 times/day. Except me of course—my laugh average is very high, and a big part of my everyday life. My bowling average, well that is another story. I usually win the sack of potatoes for the lowest bowling score but always have the MOST fun! So, my wish for all of you is to contract the “disease” of laughter, as it is very contagious and infectious, and has an awesome survival rate.
A prescription for laughter.
Here are some well-known health benefits of Laughter:
•It helps lower Blood Pressure—after a good laugh, the blood pressure increases initially, but then it decreases to level lower than their norm. Laughter also increases vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood.
•It boosts the Immune System—laughter decreases stress hormones and strengthens immune system by increasing infection fighting antibodies.
•It reduces Pain—laughter releases endorphins that increase pain tolerance. Laughter also healps us forget about aches and pains for awhile.
•It helps maintain Blood Glucose Levels—laughter affects the neuroendocrine system and keeps blood sugar levels from spiking.
•It stimulates Organs—laughter increases our intake of oxygenated air which stimulates organs into action. It eases stress and keeps the brain alert which helps us learn and retain more information. Laughter also helps facilitate digestion. A good belly laugh empties lungs of more air than it takes in which is very cleansing and sends out oxygen rich blood and nutrients to the body.
•It provides a Good Workout—Also known as “Internal Jogging”, laughing 100 times or for one minute is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine. Even better—you won’t have to sweat—just laugh! Laughter provides good facial,back, abdominal, and cardiac muscle conditioning. Laughing also burns calories—laughing 10 minutes/day can burn 50 calories.
•It helps with Mental and Emotional Health—laughter is an excellent coping mechanism to protect the mind, body, and spirit and unite people during difficult times. When you are laughing you can’t possibly feel angry, sad, or anxious.
•It decreases Stress—stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine decrease with laughter. After a good laugh muscles relax and so do you.
•It reduces Aggression—laughter can cut tension in a room and promote relaxation—sometimes all you need is a good joke or some silliness to lighten the mood or tension.
•It will boost Social Skills—Finding the humor in life and having the ability to laugh will improve social skills. Laughter connects people, fosters communication, reduces stress levels, and makes us feel good. Having laughter in all of your relationships enables you to be more spontaneous, less defensive, and able to express true feelings.
So are you ready to get started? Yes, of course you are! Here are some helpful LAUGHTER hints or ideas:
•Smile—smiling is the beginning, silent form of laughter. Babies can laugh as early as 4 months old—what’s your excuse? And yes, babies smile before they can laugh.
•Move toward Laughter—people seem to laugh more in groups. I believe the most laughter comes from spending time with family and friends not from listening to jokes.
•Count your Blessings—acknowledging the positive aspects of your life instead of focusing on the negative will prevent barriers to happiness and laughter.
•Make time to spend with fun People—people that can easily laugh at themselves and find humor anywhere and everywhere—it can be contagious. Avoid negative people.
•Fake It Till You Make It—quite honestly—this is the motto I have lived by for years! The body cannot tell the difference between fake, purposeful laughter and real laughter generated by real humor. And the benefits are the same for both—so smile and laugh fake or real because it works!
•Make a personal goal to “Lighten Up”—how—by learning to laugh at one’s self and finding the humor in your own life. Observe others, especially infants and children, who show us all how to find amusement in simplest ways. Children are the experts of laughing and playing.
•Make your personal space Light and Fun—keep a toy in your car or on your desk, choose a funny computer screensaver to remind you to laugh, and have pictures of you and your friends/family having fun! Have you seen my silly cows in my car, home and workspace?
•Make time for FUN—comedy club, karaoke, bowling, dancing, funny movie, play with children and pets often, game night with friends, be silly, or find some fun people to hang with.
This is my first Blog attempt and I had FUN talking about a subject so near and dear to my heart. To me, Laughter is the BEST medicine; it has never left me down. Remember, laughter is free and we are all born with it. Even if you did not have laughter in your home growing up, you can learn to laugh at any age- so what are you waiting for? Hopefully, this blog can help you with your laughter journey.
A quick exercise for you to Try: STRETCH the corners of your mouth into a smile and then give your smile a voice—LAUGH! Now be honest, don’t you feel lighter, relaxed, and your muscles a lot less tense?Now, that is what I have been talking about—the awesome, beautiful, priceless, and infinite gift of Laughter!