By Elaine Plummer, RN
“What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.”
– Yiddish Proverb
Like one of my very favorite Mary Poppins songs says: “I love to laugh… loud and long and clear.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOMqqI-kzHY&list=RDpOMqqI-kzHY&start_radio=1&t=0) Just thinking of that song makes me smile. The joyous aspect of the song is more than just a familiar beloved catchy tune; it is good medicine.
Yes, laughter is good for us!
According to a video on WebMD titled, “Laughter Can Improve Your Health,” compiled by Damon Meharg*, “Laughter helps reduce stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, and pumps up immune system activity by increasing interferon, T cells, and white blood cells. A hearty guffaw or belly laugh can also boost heart rate, improves blood flow, and stabilizes blood pressure.” It also states, “Diabetic patients saw their blood sugar levels rise less after eating a meal at a comedy show; laughing improves digestion and speeds up respiration and blood circulation; in fact, laughing 100 or more times a day may have the same health benefits as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise!”
From my perspective, smiling is one of the best routes to laughter. The Mayo Clinic agrees. In an article titled: “Stress relief from laughter? It is no joke,”** they advise: “Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you’ve had your chuckle, take stock of how you’re feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant? That’s the natural wonder of laughing at work.” Check out the article, as it offers further ways to improve your sense of humor, especially helpful if you have put that part of your being on the back burner.
For those of you who are ill or going through the stress of caring for an ill loved one, you may be at a place where laughing doesn’t seem possible. That’s where the Dragonfly Foundation can help. Along with creating happy distractions for their patients and family, they will do anything in their power to make a smile. Thousands of Dragonflies agree!
“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”
Elaine Plummer, RN
*WebMD video: https://www.webmd.com/balance/video/laughter-heals
**Jean Houston is an American author involved in the “human potential movement.” Along with her husband, Robert Masters, she co-founded The Foundation for Mind Research. Wikipedia