There is a strong connection between humor and health, but when you’re faced with a lot of pain, suffering, and challenges on a daily basis that are part of the terrain when living with a chronic health condition, it can be easy to lose your sense of humor. This is understandable, however, finding a way to keep a little comedy present in your life is not only a powerful coping method but essential food for the body, mind, and spirit. In the midst of our most difficult times, a little laughter can literally be a lifesaver.
Some of the most valuable ways in which humor affects our health are that it improves the mood, decreases feelings of powerlessness, makes life lighter and more manageable, and helps us see things in a new light. This stimulates feelings of hope and thus we feel more capable of handling the problems in our life.
Everyday problems and hassles are kept in perspective as it helps us view situations with more objectivity and insight. Problems that seemed insurmountable suddenly become more manageable. We are reminded not to take ourselves or life so seriously. When shared with others, laughter bonds us closer together.
A little humor replaces emotional distress because it’s impossible to be angry, depressed, or anxious in the process of laughter and it improves your overall quality of life. Humor temporarily draws our attention away from our pain and suffering and gives us a much-needed break. Although it may be brief, it momentarily brings joy into our life.
Not only is humor good for our mental health, but humor also boosts our immune system, reduces stress, and provides pain relief. Laughter decreases our stress hormones, increases antibodies that fight infection, and releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. What’s even more amazing is that researchers at the University of California actually reported that just looking forward to or anticipating a good laugh will also release the endorphins and similar research found it will lower the stress hormones.
Additionally, it is believed that laughter actually lowers blood pressure, is good for the heart, improves brain functioning, induces relaxation, instills an overall good sense of well-being, and stimulates the will to live.
Cultivate More Humor and Improve Health
Keep a good sense of humor. Laugh at yourself. If you laugh at yourself, you’ll never run out of things to laugh about.
If possible try to find some humor in your illness or the impact it has on your life by finding the ironic or ridiculous aspects of its existence in your life.
Read humorous material like jokes or watch a comedy on TV on a regular basis.
Watch movies that make you laugh out loud as often as possible.
Keep humorous material insight on a daily basis, such as a comic under a magnet on the refrigerator or a poster on the wall. I have a little plastic ball that is a smiley face in plain view that I look at every day. Just looking at it makes me smile and feel happier inside. How can you not smile when you look at a smiley face?
Read cartoons, funny magazines, or books.
If you have a computer, sign up to receive a joke a day in your email. There are many different choices out there. The Internet has an endless source of humor and inspiration to take advantage of. Just do a Google search and you’re all set.
Seek out people who have a good sense of humor and make you laugh.
Avoid or minimize time with people who bring you down.
Listen to comedy on CDs.
When something frustrating or annoying happens, try to turn it around and reframe it in a different light.
Humor will improve mental and physical health and heighten the quality of our life, however its important to keep in mind that you don’t make fun of yourself in a deprecating way, as this will be counterproductive. You should not make light of your situation or the struggles you endure. It’s equally important to acknowledge and express your frustration or sadness about your situation. Always show yourself and others respect and maintain a sense of balance. Along that same line of thinking, humor should never be at the expense of someone else and inside jokes should be avoided as they make others feel excluded.