By Valerie Rice | November 21, 2020
The world has been gripped by crisis for the last year, and as I am sure you are aware, it is seriously stressful. Many people have a hard time dealing with stress and it can lead to severe anxiety. For those with anxiety disorders, it makes life a living hell. For the average bear, life is just plain miserable and they become cranky and miserable themselves. The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” is not actually true for anything, but it really does cut through the stress and help us cope with crises. So how did it become such “common knowledge?” Let’s look deeper and perhaps laugh a little.
Yes, yes, I love science. Don’t we all? Besides, without the evidence I am just blowing hot air. Laughter improves mental function, causes the skeletal muscles to massage the internal organs, and increases blood supply (Lynes et al, 2019). Yup, it is true. It also doesn’t have to be spontaneous, it can be scheduled. Wait, scheduled humor? Oh yeah, that’s a thing. Laughter yoga is an exercise that is designed to simulate humor responses for the sole purpose of reducing stress (Lynes et al, 2019). I can’t push the benefits of yoga enough, and it isn’t all bendy body positions, yoga can be breathing, meditation, and simulated laughter. Pretty cool, right? For more information, click here.
This sure sounds like science, but less confusing. We simply have not done enough empirical studies on laughter to provide it as a prescription (Strean, 2009). Not only does it not really CURE anything we haven’t looked at it enough to prove anything. Okay, so what? Anecdotally (people say) it makes you feel better. When I choose a healthcare provider, and I have several, I pick one with a sense of humor. For example: My PCP is the type of guy I can call a barmy old codger and, instead of getting offended, will call me a stubborn old batt. Yeah, playful banter. Neither one of us is offended because I am so stressed out over my health I need to vent and he understands that. Then we laugh and move on, and I feel better. The major benefit? YOU FEEL BETTER!
For today, what are some things that make you laugh? For me it depends on what is stressing me out. One of my favorite comedians to counter my political stress is Randy Rainbow. He makes song parodies and spoofs political interviews. I love his humor and, whether you agree with the politics or not, you can’t argue the pure talent. You can check him out here or click the video above. Another one of my go-to comedians is Samantha Bee. Why? Because she takes the serious political drama and makes it much more palatable. The seriousness of the situation remains while taken with both a grain of salt and a dose of laughter. You can watch her here. For a more general humor release, especially involving covid, I prefer the daily Show with Trevor Noah. He is pretty freaking funny, and you can watch his stuff here. Sometimes, I just want to get out og my country, and I love crude comey, so I take a dose of Russell Howard’s social comedy from the UK, and you can watch him here. I also recommend Sindhu Vee, if you enjoy hilarious female comedians,and her site is found here. Finally, one of my all-time favorites, is another british comedian, Eddie Izzard. One of the best, and you can watch here.
This last year has been deadly, terrifying, and farr too serious. I suggest that, insead of hiding under the blankets in a panic or plotting a protest that will make it worse (like refusing to wear masks and spreading disease with huge holiday parties), we expand our laughter tools? Watch one of my favorites and then leave a comment with one of yours so I can enjoy it. It sounds much healthier than a cootie exchange, and would be more valuable this year than any gift. Until next time, be well!
Lynes, Linda, MPH, MSN, Kawar, Lina, PhD, RN & Valdez, Regina. (2019). Can laughter yoga provide stress relief for clinical nurses?. Nursing Management, 50, 30-37. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.NUMA.0000558481.00191.78
Strean W. B. (2009). Laughter prescription. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 55(10), 965–967.