Laughter :-) A Tool for Patients

laugh.gifYesterday I watched a vignette on the Today Show about the health and healing benefits of laughter. Here’s a link.

Meredith Viera talked to a gentleman who teaches “laughter yoga” — a way of using laughter as exercise, I guess. They discussed studies that have shown that laughter, regardless of whether it is genuine or forced, is a real health and healing booster. The endorphins it produces can help us lose weight, improve our cardiovascular health, lower risk of heart attack and more. Even just smiling can be helpful.

I love it!

Can you think of anything else that everyone loves to do that is so healthy for you? And — it seems like we can’t ever do TOO much of it! OK — so I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of laughing so hard sometimes that our faces hurt, or the muscles in our stomachs ached — but even still…..what a marvelous result!

Let’s take this a step further. I suppose there are times when a real belly laugh could be harmful to someone with stitches that could pull out, or someone who had a broken rib — or a handful of other problems…… HOWEVER….!

Many of the patients who tell me about their bad medical experiences seem to have one little corner of their stories that includes something funny, or something that struck them funny at the time, or some indication that they could see some humor in the experience. Not the overall horrible experience, of course. Rather, a portion of the story, or the follow up to the story that became comic relief.

I’ve written before about attitudes. One’s approach to life can always be improved by looking at the brighter sides. Even if there seems to be no bright side, sometimes just looking for one can help.

I’m an optomistic person in general. When I was told I would die within six months from my supposed aggressive cancer, I fixed all my favorite, very fattening and horrible-for-me foods (can you say fat and sugar?) Then I joked that it was my new diet! I laughed through my tears. But it was definitely a relief.

And yes — since then I’ve paid the price in extra lbs for those several months of enjoying all that bad-for-me-food. But I do believe that the overall positive benefit of keeping my sense of humor as best as I could was worth it. And besides — it all tasted really good 🙂

The bottom line for sharp patients? As best you can, keep your sense of humor, look for silver linings, make lemons from your lemonade — in general try to keep as positive an outlook as you can.

And laugh! It’s good for you!

(Did I tell you the one about the….. )

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Trisha Torrey
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