Sunday, November 7, 2010

Laughter as Medicine

Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.

It seems that people have always intuitively understood the therapeutic effects of laughter, and more recently science has been able to explain some of these benefits. The act of laughing increases oxygen flow and circulation while lowering blood pressure. Laughter also balances our emotions. The Mayo Clinic suggests that daily laughter can go a long way in helping cancer patients cope with their illness. Here are a few tips they recommend:
  • Watch a funny movie and laugh out loud.
  • Laugh with friends — go for coffee together, talk a walk, go window shopping.
  • Take time to read the comic section of the paper every day.
  • Play games such as Pictionary, Bingo, Charades, Bowling ... anything that puts you in a situation of humor and fun.
While helping my sister battle non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, I've found that laughter also provides a diversion. It serves as a temporary escape from the rather frightening reality of cancer. I had never really thought of laughter as medicine, but it makes perfect sense. I think I sense a Marx Brothers marathon in our near future...

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