You’ve probably heard the saying “Laughter is good medicine.” Anyone who has ever found them self feeling better after having a hearty laugh knows this is true. Some people, however, might need a little encouragement before adding a daily dose of laughter to their personal wellness regimen. Since this is National Humor Month what better time is there to consider adding humor to your wellness toolbox than now?
Much has been written about the health benefits of humor and laughter. For example, in his book Handbook of Humor and Psychotherapy, Stanford University professor, psychiatrist, and health humor pioneer William Fry, MD teaches, “Laughter is clearly related to the reduction of stress and physical symptoms related to stress.” The scientific body of literature has grown significantly since Dr. Fry’s early work over 20 years ago. Though the exact mechanism of how humor and laughter affect health hasn’t been identified, much has been learned about the physiology of laughter and the resulting benefits on health and well being.
For example, the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has revealed that positive thoughts and laughter strengthen the immune system. Laughter also plays a role in reducing stress hormone and relieving pain. Cardiology research shows laughter might play a role in preventing heart disease. Perhaps that is because laughter causes the body to mimic some of the effects of exercise, such as increasing circulation and the flow of oxygen in the blood. Laughter also has other heart healthy effects such as relaxation and stress reduction.
In addition to enhancing physical wellness, humor and laughter can also improve mental and social wellness. Mental health benefits include improved mood, increased resilience, and reduced stress. Social health benefits include strengthening relationships and reducing conflict.
It’s not surprising that humor enhances so many aspects of health and well-being. The field of positive psychology has identified many health benefits associated with positive emotions. Not surprisingly, these also include improved physical, mental, and social wellness.
Though there is still much to learn about the uses and limitations of laughter and humor therapy to promote health and wellness, the research is encouraging. In the meantime let’s laugh for the fun of it. To help celebrate National Humor Month, here are a few easy tips to boost personal wellness through humor and laughter. Remember, if you are experiencing health issues speak with your doctor before starting or changing any health regimen.
To help celebrate National Humor Month, here are a few easy tips to boost personal wellness through humor and laughter. Enjoy!
Tips for Celebrating National Humor Month
- Watch a funny movie.
- Go to a comedy club.
- Read a funny book.
- Learn a new joke and tell it to others.
- Watch your favorite sitcoms throughout the month.
- Collect funny cartoons.
- Take a laughter yoga class.
- Have a joke contest with friends, family, or co-workers
- The next time your text or e-mail says LOL, do it.
- Just laugh. If you feel silly forcing yourself to laugh guess what… it will probably make you laugh!
Click here for Dr. Fry’s book Handbook of Humor and Psychotherapy: Advances in the Clinical Use of Humor (Book only)
Holistic Wellness Speaker Dr. Donna L. Hamilton, MD, MS, FAAP is a former board-certified pediatrician residing in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She is Chief Wellness Officer and co-owner of Manifest Excellence, LLC. Dr. Hamilton specializes in holistic wellness promotion and speaks nationally on this topic. Her company Manifest Excellence teaches a comprehensive approach to health and wellness by addressing mental, emotional, social, spiritual and physical wellbeing. For more information visit www.ManifestExcellence.com
© 2011 Donna L. Hamilton, MD, MS
A wellness thought leader, she champions a comprehensive approach to health by addressing mental, emotional, social, spiritual & physical well-being with a simple and potent message. Her book Wellness Your Way offers a practical strategy to assist readers in creating a happier, healthier life. For more information or to book Dr. Hamilton for speaking engagements visit www.ManifestExcellence.com or www.DonnaHamiltonMD.com