Feeling a bit stressed during this rainy, snowy winter season? That's not uncommon, so find something about the snow, cold, rain to laugh about. Laughter therapy is a viable, effective tool for good health. Did you know that kindergarten children laugh about 300 times per day, while adults only laugh about 17 times per day? For many people, a cause of stress or ill health is a sense of helplessness, powerlessness, or lack of control. Laughing and a sense of humor help give you back that sense of control.
Dr. William Fry, a pioneer in laughter research from Stanford University Medical School, claimed it took 10 minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would be after just one minute of hearty laughter. In 1964, Dr. Norman Cousins, a physician, was affected with acute inflammation of his spine and was in great pain. His case was so severe that he was given a one in 500 chance of recovery and only a few months to live. But in 1979, Dr. Cousins wrote that 10 minutes of laughter daily allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep. What was his simple therapy approach?
It may sound crazy, but all it took was to watch several episodes of the comedy shows Candid Camera and the Marx Brothers every day. See, when you're feeling stressed, laughter acts as a tranquilizer. It increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the immune system. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abdominal muscles and works out the shoulders, leaving muscles relaxed — and provides a workout for the heart.
Laughter is contagious. By adding more laughter into your life, you also help others to giggle more and tap into that feel-good groove. So get in the habit of smiling at everyone you meet. Build a humor library and share it. Include books, movies, YouTube clips and even comic books. If you are a member of a support or volunteer group for a hospital, rehabilitation unit, nursing home, retirement facility, or public library, you'll be doing a great service to residents or members by developing and promoting a Humor Library.
By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels too, and perhaps even improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them... further reducing your stress level! Instead of complaining about life's frustrations, chuckle about them. If you can laugh at them, you can live through them. Make an effort to laugh throughout the day. Laughing not only lightens your burdens, but those of everyone you meet. What makes you laugh? Leave a comment below!
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