Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

Whether one suffers from a serious illness, a common cold, or everyday stress, the existence of humor in life is a sure way to increase health. Researchers around the world will attest to their findings that laughter, or simply looking forward to a humorous event, reduces the level of stress hormones in the blood and increases the levels of chemicals attributed to relaxation. One such researcher, Dr. Lee Berk, a professor of family medicine at the University of California-Irvine, is quoted as saying, "There is something about humor and laughter that causes the immune system to 'turn on' metabolically and do more effectively what it is designed to do."
Therapeutic Humor for Stress
People who use humor in response to stress suffer less fatigue, tension, anger, depression, and confusion. Just like the anticipation of stress triggers the body's stress response, the anticipation of pleasure can trigger a stress buffer. It is important, however, to remember that humor is, often times, a learned skill which means that it can be practiced and perfected with regular use. A good tip to remember is that it typically takes ten consecutive daily instances of repeated behavior for something to become a habit. What better habit to pick up than laughter.
Constructing a Humor Survival Kit
One of the best ways to start a day is with a laugh. Collect jokes, poems, quotes, short stories, and images that cause a chuckle and place them in a box or container. Take some time to decorate the humor kit with color, material, images, and words that are sure to bring about a smile. Place the box or container in a place that is consistently frequented first thing in the morning. Every morning, pull a piece of the collection out the humor kit, read it, and subsequently start the day with a good chuckle.
The Laughter Yoga Combination
Exercise and laughter are two actions associated with better health and wellness. Laughter Yoga classes, a fun-filled activity that combines the two, has revolutionized the wellness world. Originated by Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India, Laughter Yoga combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing. Laughter is simulated through eye contact and childlike playfulness. Basically, participants "fake it until they make it." The science behind the Laughter Yoga concept is based on the fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter and therefore gets the same physiological and psychological benefits

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