Laughter Therapy is no Joking Matter

laughing ladies

“Quotes found on the internet are not always accurate.”

                                             -Abraham Lincoln

Are you laughing at that?  Great!  You’re literally doing your body good.

An Optimum Health Institute (OHI) guest shared the story of how, when she was stricken with a brain aneurysm, despite her pain she was able to joke with her neurologist that she knew “It was all in her head.”  He later told her he was positive that the only reason she survived was because of her bizarre sense of humor.  By being able to laugh in the face of a life-threatening event, she could maintain a healthy balance in her body, mind and spirit, making her surgery and complete recovery come off without a hitch.

It’s a medically proven fact – laughter really is the best medicine.  A good laugh loosens up the whole body, relieving physical tension and stress and leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.  It effectively massages the diaphragm, thorax, abdomen, heart, lungs and even the liver.

It boosts the immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.  Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. That can mean less pain, and quicker healing times.

Laughter protects the heart by improving the function of blood vessels and increasing blood flow.  It’s not just a great tonic for individuals — laughter brings groups together in a positive, fun way, resolving conflicts and energizing everyone while establishing a strong connection.  It’s the quickest way to bring your body, mind and spirit into healthy balance.

While documented evidence of using laughter to heal goes all the way back to the 13th century, in contemporary times, former Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins is credited with bringing the concept into mainstream consciousness.  According to the story, Mr. Cousins cured himself of a progressive illness with a self-invented regimen of laughter and vitamins.  His writings on the topic sparked interest in laughter therapy, and the funny idea took off.

The power of laughter to heal is now so respected that Laughter Yoga classes are gaining in popularity, and hospitals across the nation are incorporating both formal and informal laughter therapy into their therapeutic regimes.  Even the pentagon is using it to help military families, training “laugh leaders” to help families use laughter as a stress releaser. 

A funny thing about laughter therapy — the brain can’t tell if we’re laughing for real or using “forced laughter,” where we intentionally start to make “ha-ha-ha” sounds and gradually turn up the intensity.  Whether we just watched a YouTube video of a cat chasing a bear up a tree, or we’re “faking” our laughter, our body immediately starts to squirt out the good chemicals that calm us down, lower that blood pressure, relax our muscles and all the other positive benefits a great belly laugh delivers.

When you regularly camp out with some favorite movie comedies, challenge the kids to a squirt gun battle or just intentionally make yourself laugh, you’re wisely including some very healing “funny business” in your life. 

Keeping your body, mind, and spirit in alignment is important for achieving good health. If you are looking for a holistic healing program, and a lot of good laughs, visit Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or Austin. We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health in 2013. Call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.