Humor Me Healthy
When was the last time you really belly laughed? I don't mean texting ROTFL, I mean rolling on the floor, clutching at your gut, and wiping tears of joy from your eyes? What if I were to tell you that spontaneous eruptions of laughter could heal your body? It's true and here's how... My husband and I recently took our kids to see Inside Out, the movie about the emotions that fluctuate in a young teenage girl's mind. I laughed and cried through the movie, but there was one poignant moment I couldn't get over. Entering high school, the girls' silly mentality crumbled and faded away.
How many of us have given up our goofy side to be more mature adults? I get silly with my kids but honestly, sometimes I react like such a curmudgeon when they just want to goof off.
I'm not a fan of tickling, but my children beg their daddy the moment he walks through the door, to tickle them until they are reduced to squeals of delight.
I'm more of a story teller, so once the tickling settles, my kids will cuddle into me and beg for a silly story about their childhood. They only ask for the funny tales and they ask me to repeat them again and again.
Get Serious About Play
Studies show that we need to get serious about play. Chris Kresser, MS shares that "humor may have evolved specifically as a strategy for coping with stress." Doesn't that make sense? Laughing gave us a way to distance ourselves from our problems, look at them from a different perspective, and feel less anxiety over them.
So when does laughter become medicine? When we see science proves that having a sense of humor reduces stress. Spontaneous laughter releases dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter in the brain, and endorphins, which help to relieve pain. Continuous laughing can yield similar results to exercise such as heart rate changes, blood pressure changes, muscle activity, and brain activity.
Stress can kill, no joke! Conversely, reducing stress can save your life. It's time to lighten up a little and stop taking yourself so seriously. I often repeat in my yoga class, probably more for myself than for my students, "don't worry, it's just yoga, it's not that serious."
I realized this weekend as I was sitting in a very serious nutrition conference, that I needed more humor in my life. I was missing my family, and realized that they are the silly pillars that bring me back to the moment. I fell in love with my husband, not only for his good looks, but because he made me laugh, and I felt happy whenever I was with him. He was the yang to my very serious yin.
I was missing our nightly ritual to watch an episode on TV, and I realized why I crave that time. It's not only the connection of cuddling on the couch, but that I need that episode to be a silly sit com so I can giggle and decompress from my daily stress. I agree with Kresser that if you are going to watch TV, "you might as well watch shows that are funny and improve your health."
While away for the weekend, I stayed with friends who don't have children. After the long work day, I found myself rolling on the floor, playing with their two dogs, and I realize upon writing this, that they were stand ins for my own children.
My point is this: I know you may be so tired at the end of the day that you want to crawl into a room alone and drink wine until you pass out, but there are more ways to self medicate.
Make an attempt to bring humor into your life and giggle into health with these few suggestions.
10 Ways to Find Health Through Humor
- Turn off the news on your way home from work; instead listen to a funny radio station or light music.
- Watch a comedian on TV instead of watching more over sensationalized, depressing news.
- Listen to a David Sedaris audio book, or a funny podcast while cooking a healthy meal.
- Lay on the floor and play with your pets or do some silly yoga with your kids.
- Put on some silly music and have a ridiculous fashion show with your family or friends.
- Share funny stories about your past and be sure to act out the silly parts.
- Play a really silly board game that promises to bring on the giggles.
- Read the funnies instead of the headlines.
- Read a blog that you find entertaining instead of the online news feeds.
- Go to a comedy night with a group of friends and get the best ab workout of your life.
Laughter is an amazing medicine, it's free, and it has magical healing power. Never was the magic explained better, then by J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan.
When the first baby laughed for the first time, it's laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies."