Research has been uncovering what happens physically, mentally and socially when we laugh. Here are some of the findings:
• We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.
• People who believe in the benefits of laughter say it can be like a mild workout -- and may offer some of the same advantages as a physical workout. "The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar. Combining laughter and movement, like waving your arms, is a great way to boost your heart rate."
• One pioneer in laughter research, William F. Fry, M.D., claimed it took ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter.
• And laughter appears to burn calories, too. Researchers at Vanderbilt University, conducted a small study in which they measured the amount of calories expended in laughing. It turned out that 10-15 minutes of laughter burned 50 calories.
• Laughter even taps into and promotes the body's natural-self healing mechanisms. It is helping people in life or death medical situations, or with terminal illness, to cope and in some cases heal.
Dr. Lissa Rankin, in her book titled, “Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself”, offers skeptics scientific proof that the body knows how to heal itself. To understand how this occurs, it is key to be aware that the body’s nervous system has two-operating systems:
- Sympathetic Nervous System, dominated by the “fight-or-flight” stress response.
- Parasympathetic Nervous System, run by the relaxation response. It is only when the nervous system is in a relaxation response that the body’s self-repair mechanisms function!
The Stress response is there to protect us in case a bear or tiger is chasing us, but these days, our stress responses get triggered, on average, over 50-times per day! We don’t have to be at the mercy of these stress responses.
For more detail about activating the body's natural self-healing mechanisms, I would suggest picking up a copy of Dr. Lisa Rankins book “Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself” and visiting her website: https://lissarankin.com/
With a little learning we can activate our body’s natural self-healing abilities. Here are a number of things that can help us do that including laughter and humor:
1. Believe You Can Heal Yourself. Medical establishment has been proving that the mind can cure the body for over 50-years. It is called the “Placebo Effect” It has been proven to cause resolution of symptoms in 18-80% of patients in clinical trials, treated with nothing more than sugar pill, saline injections, or fake sugaries. As Long as you believe your condition is “incurable” or “chronic” it will be.
2. Find The Right Support. Equally essential to positive belief is the nurturing care of a true healer, someone optimistic who shares your positive beliefs, respects your intuition and ensures that you won’t be alone on your self-healing journey.
3.) Listen To Your Intuition. Nobody knows your body better than you, not even a doctor! Your body is your business so get tuned in and listen to your intuition. Trust what it tells you.
4.) Diagnose The Root Cause of Any Illness You Experience. Your doctor may give you a diagnosis and help treat symptoms. Only you can truly analyze what aspects of your life are activating your stess responses. Ask yourself if you have been neglecting relaxation response activities- like meditation, creative expression, laughter, engaging in work you love, massage, yoga, playing with animals, or playing music, etc. What have you been neglecting?
5.) Develop A Self-Guided Action Plan. Ask yourself what does my body need to heal? You may find this includes things like diet changes, an exercise regimen, or a conventional medical treatment plan. But, it may also include getting out of a toxic relationship, quitting a stressful unsatisfying job, adding a meditation practice, taking steps to get out of debt, or following a passion. Then put your plan into action which may take courage!
6.) Surrender Attachment to Outcomes. For someone on a healing journey, any talk of guilt, blame, or shame only activates more stress responses and harms the body. Surrender is the recognition of our own limits and mentally letting go of attachment to what we can't control.
7.) Use Laughter Therapy or Laughter Yoga.
Laughter therapy is a type of therapy that uses humor to help relieve pain and stress and improve a person’s sense of well-being. It may be used to help people cope with a serious disease, such as cancer. Laughter therapy may include laughter exercises, clowns, and comedy movies, books, games, and puzzles. It is a type of complementary therapy. Also called humor therapy.
Laughter yoga is a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter. It is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. Laughter yoga is usually done in groups, with eye contact, jokes and playfulness between participants.
These 7-steps towards promoting self-healing, as well as conventional medicine, are all within your power to use. Health is a choice. We’re simply learning techniques we can use to help us choose it. We're learning that laughter is good medicine!
By Judith Garner, Certified Health Coach
Helping people stay healthy inside & out!