Laughter as Therapy for Pain
Remember: "Seven days without laughter makes one weak." - Joel Goodman
You Can Use Laughter as Therapy for Pain
Do we laugh because we're happy? Sure, but we feel even better after. When we laugh, we heal. That's why we feel even better after we laugh, than we did before. You can even use "fake it till you make it" because even fake laughter does the trick. The physical action of laughter can have the listed benefits even if, at first, you don't especially feel like laughing. You can change your mood through your physical activity.
And fake laughter, especially in a group setting is contagious enough to get you really laughing. Below read about the benefits of laughter as therapy, a little on the benefits of laughter and then I have provided some links to pages that will help you laugh.
Benefits of Laughter as Therapy
Laughing feels good and makes us happy but there are proven benefits. Laughter:
- strengthens the immune system by increasing antibody production
- increases mental performance and boosts memory
- improve cardiovascular health
- lowers reduces stress by lowering cortisol levels
- help with skin conditions such as eczema
- improves allergies
- increases aerobic (heart and lung) capacity through increased oxygen consumption and heart rate
- increases relaxation and improves sleep
- exercises the diaphragm and abdominal muscles
- provides movement in the neck, shoulders and arms, thus relaxing those muscles.
- improves relaxation by lowering of blood pressure
- reduces stress and increases muscle function.
- releases endorphins which serve as:
- a natural energy booster
- a natural pain killer
- a natural mood enhancer
- makes your cheeks sore
Blood sugar levels: In a study of diabetic patients a group of diabetics ate a meal and then attended a lecture. On the next day the group ate a similar meal and then watched a comedy. They had lower blood sugar levels after watching the comedy than after attending the lecture.
Some History of Laughter as Therapy
The Bible suggests that laughter has therapeutic value:
"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." (Proverbs 15:13)
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)
Laughter as an alternative pain treatment has been used for centuries by people in Asia and South America. As early as the 13th century, doctors used laughter - as a distraction - to help relieve pain during surgery.
In the 14th century, French surgeon Henri de Mondeville used humor therapy to help patients recover from surgery. He wrote:
"Let the surgeon take care to regulate the whole regimen of the patient's life for joy and happiness, allowing his relatives and special friends to cheer him and by having someone tell him jokes."
In his book "Anatomy of an Illness," Norman Cousins wrote of how 10-minute intervals of intense laughter helped him get two hours of undisturbed sleep -- despite a painful spinal condition that had previously kept him awake in pain.
Robert R. Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, and author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, says that the most convincing health benefit he's seen from studying laughter is its ability to dull pain. And numerous other studies have found that when people laugh they report less pain or at least that they don't notice it as much.
In the Social Media Age, we have adopted abbreviations such as LOL for "laughing out loud" and ROFL for "rolling on floor laughing." We just need to do it more.
Why Not Try Laughter as Therapy Yourself?
We don't know all the mechanisms associated with laughing but we do know it's a free and easy way to relieve stress, and even reduce pain. So take advantage of it. To help you with that I have put together some good jokes at the following pages:
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