During a recent week of integrative medicine study in Arizona, I had the opportunity to try laughter yoga. What started as an uncomfortable display of men and women walking around a room fake laughing at one another, quickly erupted into some of the best eye-watering, belly-shaking laughter I have experienced in some time. What a rush as I left the room; I felt total peace and relaxation. I think if we all laughed a little bit more, life would be a little easier.
The studies support this as well. Laughter truly is the best medicine, providing a boost to the immune system and cardiovascular system, and zapping stress. Laughter has been shown to improve the specific cells of the immune system involved in battling bugs and cancer. There is also a relaxation of the blood vessels that occurs with laughter that can help to lower blood pressure. An added benefit? Laughter, including fake laughter, has been shown to burn calories similar to some forms of cardiovascular exercise.
For your health and the health of those around you, follow these tips for a healthy dose of laughter:
- Switch out your daily newscast for a sitcom. There are so many old shows from which to choose. The news is full of stress and sadness; do not let it affect you. Use this time instead to promote health through laughter.
- Hang out with kids. Kids laugh several hundred times a day, compared to the handful of times the average adult does. Get on the floor and share some laughs with those epicenters of happiness.
- Fake laughter counts too. Studies done on fake laughter show the results to be the same as genuine laughter. In the shower, car or anywhere, force out some loud belly laughs for 10 minutes. Who knows, you may just break out into the real thing!
- Watch a movie with a group of friends or family. Several Web sites offer recommendations for movies you might like. Type in some of your favorite comedies and seek out some you have yet to enjoy. Invite a friend or five over, as laughter can be contagious.
- Seek out the comedy. Go online and sign up for a joke to be delivered to your e-mail box every morning. Get some comedy albums for your car or iPod. Visit the local comedy club with some friends.
- Find a professional. Laughter therapists are popping up all over. Seek one out, or better yet, learn how to become one. Amazing things have been done with laughter and health care.