E.E. Cummings said, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” What a great focus for September, along with a fabulous topic for discussion. September for me is all about the change of seasons, students and teachers returning to school, and the beginning of harvest time. My hope is that not only for myself, but for everyone to find the integration of laughter in their daily lives this month.
Laughter is a universal human behavior that involves the rhythmic contraction of muscles, typically resulting in sound and sometimes tears. It plays a significant role in social interactions, communication, and emotional expression. Moreover, laughter has been linked to various health benefits, both physical and psychological. Some ways in which laughter can help with our health:
· Stress reduction
· Pain management
· Immune system boost
· Cardiovascular benefits
· Muscle relaxation
· Social bonding
· Coping mechanisms
· Mood enhancement
· Cognitive benefits
· Enhanced quality of life
Wow! With that many health benefits, who wouldn’t want to laugh?! It’s worth noting that not all laughter is the same. Genuine laughter, often referred to as “real” or “spontaneous” laughter, is more likely to produce these positive effects compared to forced or fake laughter. Additionally, humor is subjective, and what may be funny to one person might not be amusing to another.
While laughter has numerous health benefits, it’s important to remember that it’s not a substitute for professional medical treatment when needed. However, integrating humor and laughter into your daily routine can contribute to a more positive and resilient mindset, which can have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being.
Caregivers often have demanding and challenging roles, and they may find it difficult to prioritize self-care, including laughter. However, we can incorporate a message from Dr. Seuss: “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” Incorporating laughter into our lives can have positive effects with the quality of care we provide. Some helpful tips to find moments of joy and laughter include:
· Acknowledge the importance of laughter
· Create opportunities for laughter
· Share laughter
· Connect with others
· Practice mindfulness
· Use humor as a coping strategy
· Stay open to playfulness
· Incorporate laughter into routine
· Practice gratitude
· Lead by example
· Seek support
Remember that laughter doesn’t have to be forced or contrived; however, trying integrative therapies for laughter can be valuable. As a therapeutic tool, laughter as therapy can promote physical, emotional and psychological well-being. These therapies aim to harness the benefits of laughter in a structured and intentional way. Some examples include:
· Laughter yoga
· Humor therapy
· Comedy and improv workshops
· Laughter meditation
· Laughter clubs
· Laughter wellness
· Humor in therapy
· Laughter retreats
· Online laughter sessions
It’s important to note that integrative therapies involving laughter are not a replacement for medical treatment when necessary. These therapies are meant to complement traditional healthcare approaches and promote holistic well-being. Before participating in any integrative therapy, individuals should consult their healthcare providers, especially if they have underlying medical conditions or concerns.
In researching the topic of laughter, I was glad to see so many interesting ways in which laughter can be used and the impact it can have. I will leave you with once last thought: with the concept of nature, “laughing” is often used metaphorically to describe the beauty, vitality, and joyful aspects of the natural world. It is a poetic way to express the idea that nature can evoke feelings of happiness, awe, and wonder. I will save the ways in which the metaphorical “laughter of nature” can be understood for our upcoming Celebrating You! caregiver event being held on November 8, 2023.
Until then, laugh, laugh, and laugh!