The Best Medicine and Antidote to Stress

April Fool’s Day inspired me to write about a powerful inner resource we have inside of us, a resource that also has the power to heal.   I am referring to humor and laughter, the kind everyone can benefit from, and not the kind that is at the expense of others like sarcastic humor.

For many, laughter is effortless and natural while for others it may take some effort.  Laughter can be occasionally suppressed or completely absent when many pressures and stressful situations flood our daily lives.  It’s important to include laughter and play to maintain a healthy attitude about the paradox of life.

Humor can be used therapeutically to release emotional stress, create a shift in awareness, and embrace the paradox of life.  The power of humor can help you to momentarily forget or joke about an uncomfortable situation.  Laughter can create a diversion and interrupt the stress reaction.

Take a moment and remember the last time you experienced an uncontrollable giggle or you laughed yourself silly.  A study revealed that on average children laugh as many as 400 times a day and adults 15 times a day.  I would love to see that number 15 be increased.

Look for humor daily – share jokes, let go of taking yourself so seriously, and be silly and play like a kid (my personal favorite).  Did you know that laughter’s effect is immediate and…

  1. Contagious
  2. Boosts the immune system
  3. Enhances the effectiveness of disease fighting T-cells
  4. Lowers blood pressure
  5. Alters pain perception
  6. Promotes relaxation
  7. Expands the blood vessels increasing blood flow
  8. Oxygenates the blood and tissues due to its aerobic effects
  9. Triggers the release of endorphins, health promoting hormones and the body’s natural painkiller
  10. Decreases stress hormones – adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol
  11. Reduces anger, anxiety and fear
  12. Offers an emotional and physical release
  13. Exercises the facial muscles
  14. Strengthens relationships and enhances social interactions
  15. Creates a sense of wellbeing
  16. Is the best medicine

There is the famous story about Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy of an Illness and known as the man who cured himself with laughter.  He was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a debilitating, life threatening and incurable disease.  After trying many alternative treatments with little effect, he decided to leave the hospital, seclude himself and do what made in happy.

Maintaining a positive attitude, his healing regimen consisted of high doses of Vitamin C combined with lots of laughter.  He surrounded himself with jokes, funny movies and stories, comic books.  The laughter would ease his pain.  He found that after ten minutes of a good belly laugh it would help him to sleep pain-free for hours.  He spent day after day laughing.

After a month or so, he went for a medical check up where no traces of the illness were found.  His story influenced the way medicine looks at illness today.

Bring laughter into someone’s life.  Notice their response.  Be aware of how it feels in your heart.  Spreading joy and laughter is beautiful and healthy way to live.  As Norman Cousins has said, “Laughter is inner jogging.”

So what makes you laugh? What’s your favorite funny movie or sitcom?

Categories: April.