Laughter Is The Best Medicine

We’ve all heard that “laughter is the best medicine,” and as it turns out it does have health benefits.

Laughter actually triggers healthy physical changes in our body. Humor and laughter can strengthen our immune system, boost energy, diminish pain and protect us from the damaging effects of stress.

When we laugh it relieves tension and our muscles relax. It actually decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Laughter releases our body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which provide us with a feeling of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Laughing can improve our heart function as it increases blood flow, improving the function of blood vessels.

Laughing just plain makes you feel good. We all know how great it feels after a good ole belly laugh, even after the laughter subsides. Humor can help during difficulties, disappointments and loss. Laughter is contagious; the sound of roaring laughter alone can make us laugh. When we look at things in a humorous light, it can create psychological distance helping us cope. Humor and laughter can get you out of your own head and away from your troubles. Putting more humor and play into your daily interactions can improve the quality of your relationships, whether it be loved ones, family or co-workers. Shared laughter and emotional sharing builds strong bonds and adds joy. Because it triggers positive feelings; it is a powerful way to heal resentments, disagreements and hurts it unites people.

Smiling, happiness, humor and laughter are a natural, innate part of life, look at a baby’s smile and children’s laughter. Adults need to recapture this feel good ability. We can start by smiling. Look at your blessings and the positive things in your life. Literally make a list of all the good things in your life and distance yourself from the negative thoughts; they are a barrier to humor and feeling good inside. Spend time with fun, playful people and limit time spend with negative, pessimistic types. Bring humor into conversations; ask someone what the funniest thing that ever happened to them was. Watch a funny TV show or movie or go to a comedy club. Don’t be afraid to act like a child and play. Pets are a rewarding way to bring laughter and joy into your life as well.

We need to take ourselves less seriously. Laugh at yourself. Look for humor in bad situations; uncover the irony and absurdity of life. Put humorous things around you; a funny poster or screen saver in your office or home; add pictures and knick knacks that make you smile at the memories. I have pictures and funny antidotes everywhere in my office cubicle.

Some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter, of course, and we do need to deal with true sadness and stress. When you find yourself taken over by doom and gloom ask yourself these questions: Is it really worth getting upset over or upsetting others, will it matter years from now? Try to break the habit of chronic worry by trying to train your brain to stay calm and over-ride thoughts of persistent doubt, fears and negativity. If we think negatively we feel down. Humor and positive thinking will take you to a higher place where you can view the world from a more relaxed, creative, joyful, and balanced perspective.

Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Senior Nutrition Program provides nutritious noon meals at several congregate dining sites throughout the county along with a restaurant dining out program. Our Dietitian, Cheryl Walhstrom, RD, is available for nutrition counseling in your home at no cost to you. We also sponsor several exercise programs. Call the office for more details and information.

Call NY Connects at 753-4582.