Laughter is the best medicine

    There’s something to the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
    An article caught my eye indicating scientists say laughter, humor and joy are an important part of life. Sometimes a somber atmosphere changes for a moment when a circumstance draws humor. Memories expressed at a funeral might spark laughter which allows a welcomed feel-good moment.
    It’s no surprise that laughter is an important part of life, however I’m surprised at the extensive health effects. Studies show laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies and lowers blood pressure. Thus, it’s our friend in resisting disease.
    Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. It promotes an overall sense of well-being and can temporarily relieve pain. Exercise also releases endorphins. Which sounds more inviting to you, to laugh or to go for a run?
    No doubt about it, laughter comes easier for some. Expression levels vary to a big degree. I might find something funny but my response doesn’t compare to my husband’s outburst. Not only does he laugh but he roars.
    When in another room, I’ve heard his cackle expand while watching T.V., almost bringing him to tears. Yet when I’ve had him rerun what struck him so funny, it did nothing for me. I found more humor in his laughter.
    Ironically, Russ reflects on childhood days when his dad embarrassed him at movies due to his exaggerated laughter that everyone in the theater heard. Talk about a chip off the old block. Our daughters could relate to his childhood embarrassment.
    The movie, “Wayne’s World,” particularly comes to mind. There were some innuendos from past movies that the younger generation wouldn’t understand. Some literally turned around and watched Russ for their entertainment.
    We’ve probably all been in situations when a group nearby breaks into laughter. Recognizing what fun they’re having creates envy. Yet if they try to share what was so funny, it doesn’t resonate. Thus the realization, “I guess you had to be there.”
    Supposedly laughter has helped with deeper sleep. A woman struggled with insomnia while fighting cancer and started watching cartoons before bed. I never was a cartoon enthusiast but she was and results were immediate with her “zzzzz” success.
    An article once shared how a cancer patient started telling jokes and funny stories during chemo treatments. Spirits were lifted to the point that chemo sessions were no longer dreaded. On the contrary, cancer survivors continued to come back to share jokes and stories after their own chemo treatments were completed.
    Considering laughter benefits, I can’t help but think of Jack and Scott. Each was a kick to be around. They must certainly be healthy as I’m pretty sure they laughed even if there was nothing to laugh about. It was like breathing to them. What a wonderful characteristic.
    Have you laughed lately? For your health, eat your broccoli and figure out a way to spark humor in your days.

LORI PANKONIN is co-publisher of Johnson Publications newspapers in Imperial, Wauneta and Grant, and part-owner of the Holyoke Enterprise in Holyoke, Colo. E-mail: lori@jpipapers.com

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