Fill in the blank: Laughter is the ___ medicine. You guessed it didn’t you? Laughter is the BEST medicine. This phrase is well-known in our culture and there is research that proves the physical, mental, emotional and social benefits of laughter. Studies continue to demonstrate that laughter is, indeed, the best medicine!
Health Benefits of a Good Laugh
Dr. William Fry of Stanford University studied the physical benefits of laughing and found that laughing 100 to 200 times a day is as beneficial as 10 minutes of rowing. A robust laugh is a workout for the muscles of the face, shoulders and diaphragm. Good hearty bouts of hilarity can boost the immune system, relax muscles throughout the body and ease digestion. A good laugh can also improve mental functions like alertness, memory and creativity.
Laughter: The Cure for Stress?
Did you know that an ordinary adult averages as few as four laughs a day? With so many proven paybacks, why would we neglect such an enjoyable form of fitness? The answer is often simple to see, yet difficult to divulge: stress.
The added weight of stress has brought many negative side effects and diseases to mankind, and these are well documented. There is a simple cure for the weight of stress: LIGHTEN UP… with laughter!
Everyone knows that laughter is therapeutic, yet how many of us deliberately use it to enhance our own wellbeing? How many of us actually see and then seize the opportunities to enjoy the lighter side of life?
Taking this a step further, how many within healthcare actually use laughter in their care plans to enhance the quality of life for their patients? There are many choices we must make every day. Making a thoughtful decision to see the lighter side of life is something we can do.
Even in the work of hospice, humor has its place. My father-in-law was on hospice for 13 months. During this time, he was dependent on my wife and me for his care. Due to his physical limitations, his world had gotten much smaller. There was less he could do and therefore less he could enjoy. But, he could still laugh. And he didn’t need to leave his bed or chair to do it.
My wife and I made a decision that when we gave him his medications throughout each day, we would also share some humor. Often this was accomplished by simply reading a couple of jokes from a favorite joke book of ours. Without fail, he always laughed. The physical relaxation this brought to him was obvious. The bonds of love between us were also reinforced in a wonderful, powerful way. It was therapeutic for him to enjoy the many benefits of a good laugh and therapeutic for us to see him laugh.
Levity and Longevity
Have you ever considered that you can’t spell “longevity” without “levity?” So when it comes to life, may you always see the lighter side of it. And in so doing, may you add years to your life… and most importantly, may you add life to your years. Every day truly is a gift.