The Medicine of Laughter
Author: Linda Sinden Date Posted:3 June 2020
Voltaire's wit and insight beautifully expressed in the following quote brings light to the importance of humour to amuse and entertain in times of need.
"The art of medicine consists of keeping the patient amused while nature heals the disease".
As I walked this morning, I noticed how busy the roads were. Only a month ago the same walk was done amidst either no traffic or a small number of cars. It was slightly disconcerting as if I had walked into another familiar yet forgotten reality. Yes, lockdown did happen, and no we are not entirely through the COVID-19 pandemic, but with only 1 case unconfirmed and no new cases for 11 days, and the government has set a date to talk about moving to Level 1, things are looking up.
People are responding differently
With relief, I notice a lightness of spirit and a desire to laugh more. I'm sure that we all, but in different ways share this 'relief' that I am feeling. Some clients are expressing how difficult they are finding coming out of lockdown. Their world had become small and comfortable. As they felt the draw or push to once again move into the expanded community, doing their shopping, working outside of their home, being able to travel out of their city, they noticed some discomfort and reluctance. This discomfort can be the expression for Kapha types of resisting change. Having enjoyed the familiar and regular routine that had become normal under lockdown, now being asked to change back quite quickly can be disconcerting. For Vata types, the uncertainty can give rise to fear, worry and anxiety. For Pitta types, take time to smell the roses as you play ‘catch-up’!
Whatever your response, rest assured, it will ease as you gently interact, one step at a time. Lightness or laughter at this time can help make the transition more comfortable. (For herbal help through this transition see below.) There are several specific stress management benefits related to laughter. Let's take a look at them.
Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. Laughter also increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells (which belong to a group of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and play a central role in cell-mediated immunity). All this means a more robust immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.
Have you ever said 'well, I have to laugh or else I'll cry'? Have you experienced the cleansed feeling after a good laugh? Laughter provides a physical and emotional release from stress.
A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abdominals and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterwards. It also provides a good workout for the heart.
Laughter diverts attention away from anger, guilt, stress and negative emotions.
Studies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a 'threat' or a 'challenge.' Humour can give us a more light-hearted perspective and help us see events as 'challenges,' thereby making them less threatening and more positive.
Laughter connects us with others. It is also 'contagious,' so if you bring more laughter into your life, you will probably be well-placed to help others around you to laugh more. By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels, and perhaps improve the quality of interaction you experience with them, further reducing your stress level!
Vata support: Take two tablets of Worry Free after breakfast and evening meals.
Pitta support: Take two tablets of Stress Free Emotions after breakfast and evening meals.
Kapha support: Take two tablets of Blissful Joy after breakfast and evening meals.
May this week bring much joy and laughter to smooth the transition we are all going through. Wishing you the bliss of balance.
Linda Sinden and the Get Balance Team.