In between your headline news and favorite sitcom or drama on television; you see the ads for a litany of medicines promising to spell relief from your illness de jour (e.g., depression, irritable bowel syndrome, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, and osteoporosis). Although some people may experience short term relief from these conditions, these medications invariably come with a laundry list of unpleasant and often harmful side effects and usually do little to prevent chronic health problems in the future. So instead of buying into these ads and opting for synthetic medicines, why not turn a cheek and laugh a little or a lot?
Gelotology (from the Greek gelos, meaning laughter) is an emerging discipline in the health sciences that examines laughter and its effects on the body (psychological and physiological).1,2 In fact, several complementary and alternative medicine (CAMS) protocols prescribe laughter as an adjunct form of treatment for a variety of health conditions.3,4 The beneficial effects of mirthful laughter on your health go beyond the brief experience of joy and the social bonding that usually ensues between people. The extensive list of physiological and psychological benefits includes:
- It decreases your tendencies towards aggression thereby helping you to form and build your relationship skills with people.
- It decreases your perceived level of physical pain by enhancing your production of endogenous endorphins.
- It helps you to manage your psychological stress more effectively by allowing you to shift your perspective on often challenging situations.
- It improves your blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels and decreases blood sugar levels after eating foods that convert into glucose in your body.
- It enhances your immune system by boosting your production of natural killer cells thus helping you to ward off illness.5,6
Unlike, synthetic medicines, laughter is free and the only potential side effect is disturbing your neighbor or partner at a comedy club or movie. If you find it difficult to laugh, there are several simple ways that you can work this muscle (i.e., it is a muscle isn’t it?). You can watch or listen to a comedy film or play, go with a friend to a comedy club, join your nearest Laughter Yoga club, or read a magazine like MAD (i.e., you still read paper magazines don’t you?). If you still have trouble laughing, remember that like any muscle you only have to start where at and can simply smile instead.
To your health and success,
To learn more about how working with a psychologist and holistic health coach can help you to enhance your health and well-being, call or email Dr. Sandoval to schedule a free consultation.
- Bennett, M. P. and Cecile, A. L. Humor and Laughter may Influence Health. Oxford Journals. 1/2006.
- Liebertz, C. A Healthy Laugh. Scientific American 9/2005.
- Hayashi, Keiko et al. Laughter Lowered the Increase in Postprandial Blood Glucose. Diabetes Care. 5/2003.
- Laughter Yoga International. Laughter Yoga Aids Digestion. 10/2010
- Bennett, M.P. et al. The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 3/2003.
- Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. About Us. 8/2010.