A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.Proverbs 17:22 NLT
Humor and laughter have proven health benefits:
In 1979, Norman Cousins, MD wrote Anatomy of Illness, which brought the subject of humor therapy to the attention of the medical community. In his book, Dr. Cousins details how he used laughter to help ease his pain while undergoing treatment for an incurable and extremely painful inflammation of his body’s tissues. As a result, scientific evidence on the effectiveness of humor and its health benefits is now overwhelming. The following are some of the researched benefits of laughter.
Blood Pressure – People who laugh heartily, on a regular basis, have a lower standing blood pressure than does the average person. When people have a good laugh, initially the blood pressure increases, but then it decreases to levels below normal.
Hormones – Laughter reduces at least four of the neuro-endocrine hormones associated with stress. These are epinephrine, cortisol, dopamine, and growth hormone.
Immune System – Clinical studies by Lee Berk at Loma Linda University have shown that laughter strengthens the immune system by increasing infection-fighting antibodies.
Muscle Relaxation – Belly laughs result in muscle relaxation. While you laugh, the muscles that do not participate in the belly laugh relax. After you finish laughing, those muscles involved in the laughter start to relax. Therefore, the action takes place in two stages.
Pain Reduction – Laughter allows a person to “forget” about pains such as those associated with aches, arthritis, etc. In 1987, Texas Tech psychologist Rosemary Cogan used the discomfort of a pressure cuff to test the medical benefits of laughter on pain management. Subjects who watched a 20-minute Lily Tomlin routine could tolerate a tighter cuff than those who had watched an informational tape or no tape at all.
Brain Function – Laughter stimulates both sides of the brain to enhance learning. It eases muscle tension and psychological stress, which keeps the brain alert and allows people to retain more information.
Respiration – Frequent belly laughter empties your lungs of more air than it takes in, resulting in a cleansing effect – similar to deep-breathing. This deep breathing sends more oxygen-enriched blood and nutrients throughout the body.
The Heart – Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a study at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The study, which is the first to indicate that laughter may help prevent heart disease, found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.
A Good Workout – Laughter is the equivalent to “internal jogging.” According to William Fry, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, one minute of laughter is equal to ten minutes on the rowing machine. Laughter can provide good cardiac, abdominal, facial, and back muscle conditioning, especially for those who are unable to perform physical exercise.
Mental and Emotional Health – Humor and laughter are a powerful emotional medicine that can lower stress, dissolve anger, and unite people in troubled times. Mood is elevated by striving to find humor in difficult and frustrating situations. Laughing at ourselves, and the situation we are in, will help reveal that small things are not the earth-shaking events they sometimes seem to be. Looking at a problem from a different perspective can make it seem less formidable for greater objectivity and insight. Humor also helps us avoid loneliness by connecting with others who are attracted to genuine cheerfulness.
Other Benefits - Laughter and humor connect us to other people, foster relationships, rejuvenate and regenerate our energy, and make us feel good!
The Connection between Laughter, Humor, and Good Health. Carol Whipple, MS, Extension Specialist for Social Work HEEL Program and Susan Calvert, BA HEEL Intern Copyright © 2008 University of Kentucky and its licensors.
So in light of this wisdom...and the craziness of this time of year...enjoy this video clip and L-A-U-G-H! A special thanks to my friend Shirley for posting this on facebook :)