Is Laughter The Best Medicine Or Is It Just An Old Cliché?
One of my most favorite morning regimes is to head out for a run in the park. As I inhale the crisp warm air and watch the freshly cut green grass, my mind opens to new ideas and perspectives. Around mid-March, the Tabebuia trees are in full bloom, and one can’t but stop to admire its seasonal display. The eye-catching butterflies, buzzing bees, colorful birds, and humming grasshoppers add life to the dense foliage.
A few senior citizens from the neighborhood assemble every morning in this picturesque little green kingdom amidst the hustle and bustle of my city. They stand under the nascent rays of the rising sun waiting for their group leader to begin the morning ritual. In a few moments, the entire park is brimming with bouts of prolonged voluntary laughter accompanied by an outburst of spontaneous applause.
Humor as therapy
Laughter is a ‘social emotion’ that is natural, free and easily distributable. It’s usually a spontaneous reaction to something funny but one can avail its benefits by enjoying a good laugh even without a cause. Several studies have revealed that laughter triggers the release of endorphins in the body. It can enhance one’s intake of oxygen-rich air thereby decreasing the stress-making hormones. In addition to uplifting one’s mood, laughter might help boost heart health, lower blood pressure levels, improve sleep quality, increase pain tolerance, to name a few of its perks.
Coping with negative emotions
Hidradenitis suppurativa is a skin condition speculated to be caused by follicular structural abnormalities in the apocrine gland bearing areas of the body. Having borne witnessed to the ill effects of this abominable condition, I struggled to manage recurrent cyst formations in the axilla. Painful lesions would often get inflamed, draining of puss. Dressings had to be changed several times a day making it hard for me to carry on with daily chores.
There is no doubt that a good laugh brings the mind and body back into balance and lightens the burden of surmounting problems. But complications such as metabolic and musculoskeletal disorders, purulent discharge, acute pain, nerve damage, sever fatigue and so on impose limitations on movement that can lead to a gradual withdrawal from rewarding activities. Humans, aged or otherwise, may have learnt to manage symptoms, but managing stressors associated with various treatment options or coping with negative feelings can be quite demanding.
Taking the focus off of anger and stress
As for me, laughter had helped tilt my focus away from anger, stress, guilt, pain, hatred and a host of other feelings of pessimism for a brief period during my struggle with HS. But it wasn’t the best medicine for me. However, it did work like a supplement that provided additional and timely support and kept me afloat during trying times.
Listening to humorous podcasts, watching comedy films, funny memes, stand-up specials encouraged my brain to look for positivity in the environment. Studies reveal that people are 30 times more likely to laugh in the presence of others than when they are alone. Healthcare providers and caregivers look after a patient’s physical needs, but it is essential to work on building a network of people who can pull one out of sorrow and stagnation. As someone rightly said, we become like those we chose to hold closest. So, rub shoulders with funny people, spend time around those who know how to nurture and create happiness, keep company with individuals who can help release your inhibitions and brighten your day.
Let’s take a moment to recall a humorous incident from our lives and write it in the comment box below.
What's in your self-care toolkit? (Choose all that apply)