Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine
By Cheryl Steinberg
Laughter is one of the most powerful, natural stress relievers out there.
And societal recognition of just how important laughter can be is growing; there are such things as laughing meditation and even certified laughter teachers.
Lynda Tourloukis is one such teacher based out of Park Ridge, Ill. “I think one of the best things is that laughter increases your sense of humor,” says the motivational speaker and life coach. Tourloukis became interested in the healing powers of laughter after spending a weekend with her husband attending a seminar offered by the Humor Project, an organization that focuses on “the positive power of humor.” She now trains others to be laughter teachers and has become a personal laughter advocate.
Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine
The benefits of hearty belly laughter are extensive, ranging from alleviating depression for those who suffer to improving the heart health.
Here are some health benefits of laughter that the experts recognize thus far:
- Mental health benefits
As a person with long-term, chronic depression, I have long thought that having a sense of humor is an important tool in our armor of dealing with life on life’s terms. A personal motto, ‘you have to laugh to keep from crying’ reminds me of this. And, in fact, one of the many benefits of laughter and a sense of humor is that they cushion you against the negative stuff you encounter in life.
Another bonus: research has shown that people who use humor to deal with stress experience less loneliness and feel more positive about themselves.
Yet another bonus: a recent study found that when it comes to managing agitation in patients with dementia, humor therapy was just as effective as commonly-prescribed antipsychotic drugs — and without the side effects!
- Physical benefits
Studies show that people who report that they laugh often also tend to be in good physical health and said that they generally feel well.
Laughter therapy is commonly added to other therapies when it comes to treating cancer patients, who say that one of the benefits of laughing is an improved quality of life.
- Heart health benefits
Laughter is thought to be healthy for your heart, too. Preliminary research shows that, when you laugh, an increase of oxygen-rich blood flows throughout the body. This is possibly due to the release of endorphins, which are responsible for creating a chemical rush that combats negative stress. Laughter, along with working out and listening to good music, are all activities that increase endorphins in the body.
Incorporating More Laughter Into Your Life
Sometimes you don’t feel like laughing or, you’re so bummed, it seems impossible to squeeze out a chuckle. That’s OK. Sometimes a conscious effort to laugh is required but that doesn’t lessen the benefits of laughter one bit. Here are some ways and techniques to get into the laughing spirit and reap the benefits of laughter.
- Rent a funny movie, read a funny book, or watch a funny TV show.
- Spend time with an amusing buddy.
- Go places that help you remember good times that have made you laugh in the past.
- Practice laughter yoga.
- This specialized combination of yoga breathing techniques and exhalation creates a self-induced “laugh” that provides all the benefits of laughter rooted in humor.
- Join a laughter group. “It’s always my recommendation to get together with other people to laugh. It’s a little hard to laugh alone, unless you have practiced it,” Tourloukis says.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, chances are that laughter hasn’t had a place in their life in a while. People with a substance abuse disorder or drug addiction are generally unhappy and depressed, feeling like they are forever doomed to the cycle of drug abuse and its consequences. But, there is help! The Orchid Recovery Center is a drug and alcohol treatment center that focuses on the health and well-being of women who are seeking to recover from their addictions and drug-related issues. Please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 today.