A growing body of medical and psychological research supports the theory of laughter’s therapeutic and curative worth. Since the 13th century, laughter has been used in medical practice as a nonconventional method of pain relief and stress reduction. With the advance of scientific technology in the 20th century, researchers were able to collect more concrete evidence of laughter’s positive affect on physical and mental wellbeing. Countless studies reveal that laughter has the power to reduce pain, decrease stress, and boost immune function to improve overall quality of life. Now more than ever, medical professionals are turning to humor for the treatment of patients with chronic illnesses and offer laughter therapy to improve the effectiveness of conventional treatment methods.
For patients and families currently in the midst of their battle against cancer, it may seem strange or inappropriate to laugh while facing such a serious health issue and threat to their life. But as many of you know, Joe leaned on laughter and the power of positivity during and after his battle with cancer, and now studies show that an upbeat attitude is even more crucial in the midst of hardship than any other time. Laughter makes you feel better about your situation and the world around you in addition to acting as a distraction from your troubles.
Physical Benefits of Laughter
Laughter has many direct physical benefits that can work together to give you greater strength and resistance to both developing and suffering from complications of cancer. Some benefits include:
- Enhance oxygen intake
- Stimulate heart and lungs
- Trigger the release of endorphins (natural painkillers)
- Balance Blood Pressure
- Boost immune & circulatory system
Mental/ Psychological Benefits of Laughter
- Laughter can also work to improve your mental and physiological function with the following benefits and more:
- Improve overall attitude and sense of wellbeing
- Strengthen social bonds and relationships
- Improve sleep and relaxation
- Reduce stress and overall tension
One successful example of laughter treatment in action is the Laughter Therapy Program at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. As part of their Mind-Body Medicine Department, Laughter therapy is used to help patients cope with conventional cancer treatments and encourage them to socialize with other patients experiencing similarly stressful events. Their humor therapy sessions known as Laughter Club or Humor Groups, embrace humor as a physical exercise that is both healthy and enjoyable for cancer patients and their families alike. Visit the Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s website for more information about their laughter therapy program and how you, a family member, or a friend battling cancer can get involved.
And don’t forget to have an (Up)Beat day!