Resources: University of Maryland Medical Center, Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Humor is infectious. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter is an innate part of life. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Laughter can trigger healthy physical changes in the body. It is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Best of all, this medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.
Laughter is good for your health
Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You’re less likely to feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Some ways to start
Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling.
Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”
Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.
Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond your control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might think taking the weight of the world on your shoulders is admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy, and even egotistical.
Deal with your stress. Stress is a major impediment to humor and laughter.
Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.
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Speaking of healthy living...
Now J members have the opportunity to combine their personalized training package with healthy food options from Relay Foods.
Monthly training packages include personal assessment, goal setting, customized training sessions, food consultation, Relay Foods online grocery shopping discounts, assessment retest, and Health Tip of the Week e-mails.
Your cost for the package is based on your chosen workout level and amount of groceries you order.
Questions? Contact Elin.Kanchev@jccnv.org or call 703.537.3052.
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