Laughter is the best medicine

A friend asked me a while back what I did to ease depression.  I said, “I watch The Big Bangimages Theory.”  She thought I was being flippant.  I wasn’t.  During some of the recent hardest times of my life, I’ve taped and watched three or four a day, sometimes all at once.  Sometimes spread out over twelve hours.  I always feel better after a good laugh after Soft Kittie or Knock, knock, knock, Penny . . . “.  And yes, I know this is almost the same as my first paragraph last week, but I really love this show.

imagesFrom an article from the Mayo Clinic:  “A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.”

For example:

1.  Laughter can induce physical changes.  In increased the intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates heart and muscles, and increases the level of endorphins released by your brain.  It cools down your stress response, soothes tension and aids muscle relaxation.

2.  Over the long run, laughter may improve your immune system, relieve pain, make it easier for you to cope with tough times and improved you mood.

So today I decided to make some suggestions–as well as watching funny programs and movies–about how to feel better through the free and always available use of medicinal laughter.

1.  Listen to upbeat music.  I can’t listen to Pharrel Williams’ Happy without at least smiling and clapping.  Dancing would really get the blood flowing.

2.  I also watch a recording of the 2013 NCAA basketball championship won by my team, the University of Louisville.champs_0_standard-2-600x400

3.   Okay, this is really weird but it worked.  I bought a Tickle-me-Elmo because hearing him laugh makes me laugh.  Watching the cats trying to figure out where that sound is coming from is also amusing.DSCN0460

4.  I’ve learned not to watch depressing movies or read literature in which everyone dies at the end.  I know these will be depressing.  Instead, when I’m feeling greatly stressed, I read the wonderful books by James Herriot, gently and humorous or something by Kristin Higgins or Georgette Heyer or Katie Graykowski.

5.  Pet a cat, walk a dog, chat with a bird.

These thoughts are unique to me but I’ve learned they help me. I don’t dismiss the importance of counseling and medication, of faith and friendship nor do I think this will heal depression.  However, I truly believe laughter can help greatly.

What would you recommend to a friend whose feeling depressed?  Does laughter help you?

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