How Laughter Really IS Medicine

laughter Feb 01, 2021

 

Some of my most cherished childhood memories involve laughing with my dad.

I can vividly remember his uncontrollable laughter as we watched the comedic genius of Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters in the classic sitcom Mork and Mindy.

 IMAGE SOURCE: Wikipedia.org

We’d laugh so hard, our faces would ache.

Fast forward nearly four decades later to Dad constantly watching comedy specials to help keep his spirits up as he endured chemo treatments for lung cancer. (Thankfully, he’s all better now!)

And my family has always been able to laugh at ourselves, too.

My sisters and I in 1991. Keep this in mind if you’re worried about needing a haircut right now.

Of course, we all know how wonderful it feels to have a good laugh. But science is discovering that there might actually be something to the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.”

In fact, studies have shown that regular laughter provides some remarkably therapeutic effects.

Improve both mood and sleep with laughter therapy

In a 2017 study published in the Korean Journal of Adult Nursing, a team of researchers explored the effects of laughter therapy on depression and sleep issues (which often go hand-in-hand).

Forty-two residents from two long-term care facilities participated in the study. They were split into two groups.

The first group continued with their standard care routine. The second group participated in two 40-minute sessions per week where they engaged in both physical activities and laughter-inducing exercises like singing funny songs, dancing, clapping, stretching, and guided laughing.

The participants who took part in laughter therapy experienced a three-point reduction on a 15-point depression scale, while the participants in the standard treatment group exhibited a 0.23 reduction.

Participants in the laughter treatment group also experienced more consistent and higher quality sleep than the other group. Additionally, the intervention group found that they were able to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and function better in the daytime.

Laughing lowers blood pressure, too!

In another 2017 study, researchers studied patients with chronic renal (kidney) failure.

Researchers studied the effects of using laughter therapy as a low-risk, complementary treatment.

While undergoing hemodialysis treatments (the filtering of the blood in patients with advanced kidney failure), 30 patients listened to a comedy CD for 30 minutes, two sessions per week, over a duration of 8 weeks.

Researchers found that laugh therapy not only including reduced the patients’ anxiety and pain, but also significantly lowered blood pressure numbers—which is crucial in helping blood flow to the kidneys.

This makes sense, because as previous research has found, laughter provides a slew of whole-body benefits, like:

  • Building resiliency to stress or negative situations
  • Improving breathing
  • Increasing endorphins
  • Limiting release of stress hormones
  • Relieving both acute and chronic pain
  • Triggering the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals

Bring more laughter to your life

Of course, laughter isn’t a “cure-all,” but it can make the challenges of life more bearable.

And what I love most about it is that laugh therapy is cost-effective, requires little to no tools, and can be used any time, anywhere.

Here are a few easy ways you can bring more laughter into your life:

  • Intentional interactions: Make time to chat with loved ones who tend to make you laugh.
  • Schedule it: As you unwind after a long day, carve out time to watch a funny TV show or movie. I’ve been doing this for years and it’s SO much better than the nightly news—especially when it comes to your mood and sleep schedule.
  • Spread the joy: Share funny cartoons, articles, pictures, or videos with your friends or family.
  • Surround yourself with humor: Hang funny pictures on your fridge, watch clips of your favorite comedian on YouTube, or check out a comedy podcast on free services like Stitcher, Spotify, or iTunes.

You might also enjoy a recent interview from my podcast. I spoke with my friend (and certified laughter leader) Dr. Colleen Cooke about why laughter is the best medicine. Click here to give it a listen.

Mark Twain once said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” And now, as science shows, laughter can be a very powerful force especially when it comes to your health.

So laugh loud and laugh often…don’t ever hold back.

Be Well,

Jim

P.S. Explore the natural benefits from music, sound, and rhythm, by joining my Donovan Sound Healing Circle which gives you unlimited access to every single one of sound based wellness methods and courses for less than $9/mo! Simply click here to learn more or give it try today.

 


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SOURCES:

Han, J., Park, K., and Park, H. (2017). Effects of Laughter Therapy on Depression and Sleep among Patients at Long-term Care Hospitals. Korean Journal of Adult Nursing. 29(5): pp. 560 – 568. Retrieved from: synapse.koreamed.org/Synapse/Data/PDFData/1094KJAN/kjan-29-560.pdf National Institute o f Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. High Blood Pressure & Kidney Disease. (nd). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved from: www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/high-blood-pressure Rosenfeld, J. (2018). 11 Scientific Benefits of Having a Laugh. Mental Floss. Retrieved from: mentalfloss.com/article/539632/scientific-benefits-having-laugh Sparks, D. (2019). Mayo Mindfulness: Laughter for stress relief is no joke. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-mindfulness-stress-relief-with-laughter-is-no-joke/ Zahra, M., Jaleh, E., Navideh, N., and Raziyeh, G. (2017). Effect of Humor Therapy on Blood Pressure of Patients Undergoing Hemodialysis. Journal of Research in Medical and Dental Science. 5(6). Retrieved from: researchgate.net/publication/322715145_Effect_of_Humor_Therapy_on_Blood_Pressure_of_Patients_Undergoing_Hemodialysis


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