Thursday, March 15, 2012

Laughter Is Healthy...

I didn’t know what to write the last two days, but the words sense of humor and laughter kept ringing in my ears, so here I am to see what I can make out of it. I love to laugh, like anyone else, but I never gave humor much thought in terms of health until I was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago. That was when I wanted to try everything and anything to fight this disease and I heard a story of someone who did nothing but watch comedies and cured themselves. Of course it could have been coincidence, but who knows and who cares. Laughter may have played a role and it sure as hell couldn’t hurt. I would rather be laughing  through my condition than spend every waking minute crying over it. I vowed to only watch television shows and movies that would make me laugh.

The day I had to break the news of my diagnosis to my girls, who were 13 and 16 at the time, was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. After telling them about my condition, I had planned to put on all my cds of the “Honeymooners” so we could spend the rest of the day all laughing together. It didn’t work out that way. The girls were probably in shock and terrified and they went off on their own, to resume normal activities, probably in denial over what they heard me say. I wanted to allow them the time to process the information, so I didn’t push it. Instead, I started watching only comedies from that point on. I rarely watch anything else, even till today. And, eight years later I am still watching reruns of Friends, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Golden Girls…and All In The Family, whenever I can catch it. 

Laughing has some very healthy effects on the body, which I didn’t even know about. It lowers blood pressure for one thing. High blood pressure runs in my family and my temperament, so I could use that. Apparently, it also helps to work out several muscles in the body too like the abdomen, diaphragm, legs, back and respiratory system. It can help reduce the stress hormones like adrenaline. It increases the response of tumor killing cells like Gamma-interferon and T-cells. It helps fight off respiratory infections and reduces colds. It increases memory and learning. And, it has been found to improve, memory, alertness and creativity.  Ten to fifteen minutes of laughing can burn up to 50 calories. It lowers blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. It helps with relaxation and sleep.  That is an awful lot to gain just by enjoying yourself laughing, don’t you think? 

Obviously, laughing improves the quality of life and if you believe in it’s additional effects you may even benefit more from a steady diet of it. It certainly improves our moods and emotions. It can even energize us. There is no down side to laughing, but there is a lot to be gained from it. And think about it…so many great comedians live to be 100! George Burns, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Betty White, Phyllis Diller, just to name a few. Maybe there is something to this laughter business that science hasn’t tapped into?

 Let’s not wait around to get a prescription for laughter! Laughter is the best medicine and you can start self medicating now. Go out and buy or rent your favorite movies or tv shows and watch as often as your time allows! That’s my advice to everyone.

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