I often tell people that if it wasn’t for my sense of humor, I do not know where I would be. It has helped me through some terrible times in my life…times I didn’t think I would survive.
Laughter has been proven to be beneficial to our health. In fact, according to HelpGuide.org laughter sets in motion “healthy physical changes in the body” (HelpGuide.org, http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm). It activates the body’s ‘feel good’ transmitters, called endorphins, which gives us a sense of well-being and can act as a pain reliever. Laughing decreases stress and improves our body’s ability to fight off infection and disease (Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456).
In addition to the long term effects, laughter also has short term benefits (Mayo Clinic):
- Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
- Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Also, laughter is infectious, joins people together, and “increases intimacy” (HelpGuide.org).
So, what if you feel like you don’t have a sense of humor? An article for the Mayo Clinic claims that humor can be learned and it isn’t difficult. Here are a few tips (Mayo Clinic):
- Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies or comedy albums on hand for when you need an added humor boost.
- Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
- Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
- Knock-knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library’s selection of joke books and get a few rib ticklers in your repertoire that you can share with friends.
- Know what isn’t funny. Don’t laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren’t appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad, or hurtful, one.
Laughter is definitely the best medicine and it is free! Share some of your favorite jokes (stay clean) and what makes you laugh. Let’s start laughing…