What comes to mind when you hear the word pandemic? Thoughts of past influenza epidemics that wiped out huge populations around the world, right? Records of pandemics actually date back several centuries. A pandemic is defined as an epidemic that spread beyond a single country’s boundaries. I am not here to talk about the flu, the plague and the like. It has occurred to me that stress may be the new age pandemic. You can go anywhere in the world and people have stresses whether it is about work, family, health, necessities of life, survival.
What to do about stress? Medical and psychologicals sciences have proven that laughter is definitely the best medicine.
Dr Robert Holden -
Every day a new medical “wonder-drug” is launched by another global, multi-million dollar drugs industry, and yet, according to recent research, laughter is still the best medicine. A series of recent trials by scientists confirm that laughter is the most effective and inexpensive “drug” on the market. Here are some good reasons to carry on laughing.
Stationary Jogging - Imagine being prescribed laughter for weight loss. It is not as silly as it sounds. Dr William Fry Jr coined the terms “internal aerobics” and “stationary jogging” to describe the physical effects of a good belly laugh. His research found that laughter, like physical exercise speeds up heart rate, expands circulation and enhances oxygen intake. In fact, he calculated that 100 to 200 belly-laughs a day is the equivalent of a high-impact workout that can help you burn off as many as 500 calories.
Internal Massage - Laughter is the ultimate chill pill. We instinctively turn to laughter and humour when we need to rest and relax. Medical researchers have found that while we laugh our upper body is exercised, and after we finish laughing, we experience a physical afterglow in which we relax muscle tension, reduce stress in the nerves, massage the lungs, restore a full and flowing breathing pattern and gently expand our circulation once more. Laughter is the perfect “internal massage” for our busy, manic, hyperactive lifestyles.
Comic Relief - Laughter is a natural pain killer. Norman Cousins is known as the modern Father of Laughter Therapy. In his famous article for the New England Journal of Medicine, Cousins told how he used laughter to heal himself of a painful spinal disease called ankylosing spondylitis. He wrote that he made “the joyous discovery that 10 minutes of genuine belly-laughter had an anaesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” Subsequent research verifies that laughter can produce the feel-good chemical called “endorphins” which help to kill pain.
The repeated research experiments of Dr Lee Berk at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, CA, shows that laughter, happiness and joy “inspire” the immune system to create white “T” cells, commonly called “happy cells”, which help to prevent infection.
Laughter is a very effective stress-buster. Psychologists describe people who are prone to frequent bouts of stress as “Type H” personalities. The “H” stands for hostile, hurried and humourless. These people are too busy to be happy, too busy to smile, and too busy to laugh. Dr Patch Adams prescribes laughter as a stress buster. “Over-seriousness is a medical emergency,” he says. “Morbidity blows problems up, but laughter blows problems off”. Physicians have discovered that the “mirthful laughter experience” physically reduces the serum levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in the body.
Humour and laughter are excellent shock-absorbers that increase personal resilience during testing times. And, when there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit. After all, he who laughs, lasts.
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