Laughter is Good Medicine
Laughter is Good Medicine
“Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life.” ~Anonymous
We are all familiar with the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine” and there is scientific research that shows that connection. Unfortunately, however, many people don’t get enough laughter in their lives. In fact, one study suggests that healthy children may laugh as much as 400 times per day, but adults tend to laugh only 15 times per day.
Here are a few of the many ways laughter can reduce stress.
- Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine(adrenaline), dopamine, and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones, like endorphins. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working for us and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.
- Have you ever felt like you have to laugh or you’ll cry? Have you experienced that cleansed feeling after a good laugh? Laughter provides a physical and emotional release. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs, and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.
- Laughter brings the focus away from anger, guilt, stress, and negative emotions in a more beneficial way than other mere distractions. Studies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a threat or a challenge. Humor can give us a more lighthearted perspective and help us view events as challenges, thereby making them less threatening and more positive.
- Laughter connects us with others. Just as with smiling and kindness, most people find that laughter is contagious. So, if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more and realize these benefits as well. By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels and perhaps improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them, reducing your stress level even more!
Here’s another resource if you need to learn how to have more laughter in your life. Amanda Gore. Just log on to one of her YouTube videos and tell me if you don’t have a good laugh at least once. Also, in her book, The Gospel of Joy (which by the way has been renamed Joy is an inside job and it’s free, http://joyproject.amandagore.com/the-book/), she has a chapter on Laughter. And I hope she doesn’t mind if I share just a couple of tips from that chapter, but you really should read the whole thing!
- Smile and stop taking yourself so seriously
- Remember all the funny times in your life
- Find photos of as many fun times as you can
- Watch a movie that makes you laugh out loud
- Laugh and help others laugh
- Make a laughter journal and read funny stuff
- Turn around tough memories with laughter
Laughter also builds resilience. We all know that life is more enjoyable when we have more positive emotions — but did you know it directly impacts our ability to think creatively, to broaden our attention, to recover faster from colds and the flu, and to improve our overall health?
We already stated that physiologically, laughter and humor lowers our heart rate, relaxes our muscles — it’s a signal that the situation is safe, and that we are part of the group. We even literally see more — our vision expands on the periphery — when we experience positive emotion. And, as social psychologist Barbara Fredrickson finds in her research, it allows us to see beyond ourselves, in the sense of going beyond our needs, wants, and interests and being able to take in others’ perspectives.
While we all look forward to the big moments in life – the births, graduations, weddings, and homecomings – happiness, and our resilience, is about the frequency of positive experiences not the intensity. As Annie Dillard said, “how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” Life happiness is about ensuring that every day we find ways to laugh, to feel happiness and joy — even when things are hard. Maybe especially when things are hard. With each new experience of positive emotion, we’re able to better put things in context of the larger, most important aspects of life; and, the more we wire our brain for positive emotion, the more we cultivate positive emotions every day, the easier it gets to experience and find again, even during tough times.
“Everyone smiles in the same language.” ~Anonymous
Forest Bathing with Under a Full Moon and a Guiding Star
This past month I have been able to delve deeper into connecting with nature through the experience of Forest Bathing and would like to share some of my reflections and experience with you here.
“Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein
Shinrin-yoku, or Japanese Forest Bathing is a practice that is scientifically proven to help improve our overall well being. The term Shinrin-yoku was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982, and can be defined as making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest. This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.
“I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” ~ Anne Frank
In our day-to-day lives we often take our senses for granted. In the forest, we can be immersed in all five with the scent of the greenery, the taste of the air, the sounds we hear, the texture of leaves and grass, and the sights of all that surrounds us.
“Looking at the beauty in the world is the first step of purifying the spirit mind.” ~ Anit Ray
Forest bathing offers you an aromatherapy session as natural oils, known as phytoncides, are emitted by the trees to protect them from harmful insects and germs. Thereby having a similar impact on humans by naturally boosting our immune systems.
Forest bathing is the art of “not doing.” We spend so much of our lives rushing around and being busy, often needlessly. One of the key factors facilitated by forest bathing is finding time to quiet your mind and relax.
We started with a visualization of our favorite Peaceful Place, which for me includes the image on the cover of my book. As we moved through the forest, many of the participants noticed the sounds and movement of the wind.
Here’s an excerpt I shared:
The wind, most commonly known in Hawaiian as makani, has so many more names to describe it in all its forms, from soft breezes to howling winds, from salty sea air to cool mountain air. For me, makani is the breath and voices of ancestors letting me know they are near.
Rain, mist, & mountains
Voices in the wind
Telling me you are here.
Paying attention to the wind is a lesson in listening to not just what is outside, the physical manifestations, but to what is inside yourself, the spiritual awakenings. Take time this week to stop and listen to the wind. In Hawaiian culture the multitude of names for the wind include the where, when, and how each of each different type of wind, whether it’s a whispering breeze or a howling storm. In embracing ALOHA the “HA” refers to the wind inside of you – your breath, and in living ALOHA that HA must be an exchange of spirit between individuals and all of creation.
One of my favorite moments of the experience was creating our collective and collaborative mandala. With gifts of the forest guiding us to a shared balance and symmetry.
“Our task must be to free ourselves…by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” ~ Albert Einstein
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” ~Rachel Louise Carson
“Nature has been for me…a source of solace, inspiration, adventure and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.” ~Lorraine Anderson
“Climb the mountains and get good with their tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you…while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ~John Muir
And now a blend of essential oils is available to help you bring the forest to you.
The All-Powerful, All Purpose Turmeric Root
This popular spice is more than just delicious, it’s incredibly healthy. It’s also an active ingredient in Protandim® Nrf2 Synergizer®.
Even if you’ve never heard of turmeric (Curcuma longa), you’ve probably seen it. This flavor-filled spice, primarily cultivated from the roots of a flowering plant in India and other parts of Southeast Asia, gives curry its vibrant color. Beneath that color is a long history and a list of health benefits nearly as long.
Turmeric’s use dates back nearly 4,000 years to the Vedic culture in India. There it was used as a culinary spice with a great deal of religious significance. By 700 A.D., turmeric had reached China, continuing to East Africa by 800 A.D. In 1280, Marco Polo mentioned the spice in his writings.
Along the way, Turmeric also made a reputation for its many other uses as well. Susruta’s Ayurvedic Compendium, dating back to 250 B.C., recommends turmeric to relieve the effects of poisoned food. Turmeric eventually became a staple for its properties that would only be understood on a scientific level centuries later.
We now understand these healing properties are the result of turmeric’s main active compounds: curcuminoids. Curcuminoids are natural antioxidants that support healthy inflammatory responses, as well as possible benefits related to signs of the normal aging process. And that’s not all. These powerful antioxidants support our entire bodies––from the heart to the liver*. These antioxidants, combined with the fact that turmeric is a source of manganese, iron, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin C, and even fiber, make turmeric an all-around good-for-you spice. And here are a few more reasons why.
More brain power.
That bowl of curry might actually be brain food. That’s because turmeric boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, which supports healthy neuron development to promote cognitive health.*
Helps fight cellular stress.
Turmeric is an antioxidant-producing powerhouse. It works on the cellular level to support a wide range of benefits. This is part of the reason turmeric has been widely adopted across the world for centuries.
Helps aid digestion.
Turmeric also helps support the body’s natural detoxification process by helping the liver flush toxins and eliminating them from the blood.*
Supports good health.
Because curcuminoids function as antioxidants that combat oxidative stress, turmeric can also be used in cosmetic preparations to help reduce the appearance of blemishes and the appearance of dark circles and discoloration from sun exposure.
More than colorful and delicious, when it comes to supporting good health, turmeric’s list of benefits add up. Thanks to Protandim® Nrf2 Synergizer®, you get an easy way to incorporate turmeric into your daily health regimen.* Get started today!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.