All my life I have suffered from digestive issues, but last year was one of the worst. After seeking help from dietitians and doctors, I was referred to a gastroenterologist for further investigation. During the consult, I was poked, prodded, and asked several questions about my health history. Following the Spanish Inquisition, the specialist sighed and said ‘I think surgery is the best option to explore the cause of your issues’. Deep down I knew this was necessary, but I was nervous and scared no less.
I scheduled in for the procedures and left with booklets of information and consent forms. When I got home I immediately jumped on the phone to my friend to discuss everything. I explained that I would be having a colonoscopy and endoscopy at the same time to see if anything was wrong.
There was an awkward silence….
and then a giggle…..
‘Oh my god….You’re gonna be a pig on the spit!!!!’
We both cracked up laughing. Immediately all my worries and stress faded away. Finding the humor in my situation gave me a more positive outlook, and really helped to manage the anxiety I was experiencing.
Let’s face it, life can be stressful at times. Juggling the many demands of your life such as work, family commitments, and your daily sweat session can leave you feeling frazzled and worn out. Over time the effects of increased stress can add up and take a toll on your health. Some of these effects include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased muscle tension
- Increase in the stress hormone cortisol
- Suppression of the immune system
- Digestive issues & increase in symptoms of irritable bowel, such as diarrhoea
- Increased risk of depression or other mental health disorders
As you can see stress impacts our health in many ways so managing it is essential. There are many effective ways to manage stress, which include physical exercise, relaxation techniques, and counselling. But if you’re after immediate relief from the build-up of emotions from stress, one intervention may be particularly useful: Laughter.
Research suggests that laughter and humour are the perfect antidote to combat the effects of stress. The benefits of laughter therapy include:
- Reduced feelings of stress
- Reduced pain perception
- Improved mood and release of emotional tension
- Enhanced immune function
As you can see, having a laugh is good for both your mind and body. One of the interesting impacts of laughter is it’s ability to improve immune function. It does this through several mechanisms which include
- blocking the production of the stress hormone cortisol, and
- Increasing the production and release of immunoenhancers such as beta-endorphin.
- Improving Natural Killer (NK) cell activity
Natural Killer cells are a type of immune cell that attack foreign substances in the body, such as virus’ or cancer cells. Low levels of NK lead to decreased disease resistance and increased morbidity in cancer and HIV patients. In these patients, laughter therapy may be a useful intervention to boost immune function.
Laughter can help your health in many ways, and best of all, it’s free! Next time you feel like the weighed down by stress, take a laughter break!!! Check out some funny Youtube videos, read a joke book, or browse for some silly images. It only takes a moment to lift your spirits, and the positive effects are well worth it! Have a laugh, share a giggle, or crack a joke. It may even save your life.
Here are a few funnies to get you started:
Or have a laugh at my expense
What’s your favourite funny website?
When was the last time you laughed so hard you were in stitches?
Stress and health. Larzelere MM – Prim Care – 01-DEC-2008; 35(4): 839-56, MEDLINE®
Bennett, M. P., Zeller, J. M., Rosenberg, L., & McCann, J. (2003). The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 9(2), 38-45. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.usyd.edu.au/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/204826463?accountid=14757