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Laughter as Medicine

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

Is laughter the best medicine? Whoever could have created this proverb may have been onto something. Everyone enjoys a good laugh, whether from a joke or sheer happiness. Research has found that it may have benefits other than simply entertainment. Laughing is a lighthearted way to reduce stress levels, among several other benefits.

Laughter is a natural way of producing endorphins, which act like hormonal painkillers, and can increase one’s pain threshold by up to 10 perfect (but don’t test it!). It also provides good exercise and reduces the risk of respiratory infections. What’s more, laughter can lower blood pressure and stress hormones, as well as to reduce the risk of heart attacks.

Dr. Hunter (Patch) Adams, the founder of the Gesundheit Institute, initiated the creation of numerous care clowns whose mission is to bring love and laughter back into hospital environments. Laughter is attainable for everyone. Being able to laugh frequently does not mean one has to be happy all the time; that’s impossible. When stressed or upset, hearing a well-rounded joke or viewing a particularly amusing Internet meme is the way to go.

In short, laughter has not only mental but also physical benefits. It is just another source of simple happiness capable of leading to a happier life. Wellness does not have to be so serious all of the time; an amusing break from the daily grind we all go through will do anyone good. Life is not always a drama — there’s plenty of comedy too!

How many psychotherapists does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one, so long as the lightbulb wants to change.


References

“Laughter Therapy as Stress Relief.” SkillsYouNeed, SkillsYouNeed.com, 2019, http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/therapeutic-laughter.html.

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