As children, our carefree lives allowed us to laugh dozens of times a day. Now that we’re adults, life is more serious and complicated, causing most of us to forget about the importance of laughing and smiling. For many cancer patients, finding a reason to laugh is even more difficult.
People from all over the world believe in the saying “laughter is the best medicine” for several good reasons. For example, did you know laughing can improve your mental health, strengthen your relationships, help you find happiness, and even add years to your life? Let us explore these science-backed health benefits of laughing further below.
Health Advantages of Laughing
Here are some of the many reasons to laugh more:
- Relaxes your body. A good laugh helps relieve stress and physical tension, causing your muscles to relax for up to 45 minutes.
- Strengthens your immune system. Laughing your head off decreases stress hormones and powers immune cells and disease-fighting antibodies, therefore, improving your resistance to illnesses, including cancer.
- Releases endorphins, your body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins help achieve a good sense of overall well-being. Plus, it can relieve pain temporarily.
- Protects your heart. Laughing your heart out enhances the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, both of which can help prevent cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks.
- Burns calories. Although laughing can never replace exercise, laughing for at least 10 to 15 minutes per day can burn approximately 40 calories.
- Lightens the heavy load of negative emotions. An effective way to blow off some steam and diffuse conflict is by sharing a laugh. Focusing on the funny side of an argument can put problems into perspective and help you and whoever you’re upset with move on from confrontations, all without holding onto resentment or bitterness.
- Promotes a longer life. Norwegian researchers found that people, particularly women, whose sense of humor is strong outlived those who laughed less. The difference is most notable among cancer patients.
How Laughter Affects Your Mental Health
Noticed how laughing always makes you feel good? An uplifting and on-cloud-nine sensation will remain with you even after the laughter subsides. Having a good sense of humor helps you keep an optimistic outlook through disappointments, loss, and other challenging situations.
Here is the link between laughter and mental health:
- Blocks distressing emotions. In the moment of laughter, you won’t feel anxious, angry, scared, nor sad.
- Shifts your perspective. Having a change of perspective allows you to see situations in a more realistic and less destructive light. A humorous perspective, in particular, manifests a psychological distance that can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
- Attracts people with positive energy into your life. Drawing optimistic people closer to you can have a profound impact on all aspects of your mental and emotional health.
- Alleviates PTSD in people battling cancer. Declining mental health is a serious problem among cancer patients and survivors. Laughter therapy is an effective means of fighting the negative effects of cancer on the mind.
How to Bring More Laughter into a Cancer Patient’s Life
Laughter is not only a natural part of life, it is your birthright to do so. Even if you were born and raised in a household where laughing was uncommon, you can learn to laugh out loud at any stage of life. Here are some ways to start:
- Smile. A smile is a curve signaling that laughter is coming. And, like laughing, smiling is contagious. If you wish to bring more optimism into your life, practice smiling whenever you see something even mildly pleasing. And, instead of keeping your eyes glued to your device, look up and smile at people you pass in your neighborhood or along the corridors of your treatment center. Notice the effect on others and on you.
- Don’t forget to count your blessings. A cancer diagnosis can take a serious toll on your spirituality or religious beliefs. However, despite the difficulty of living with cancer, there are many other aspects in life to be grateful for. Go ahead and create a list to help you remember that you are blessed with supportive friends and family, an accommodating team of oncologists, and/or funds to afford treatment. The simple notion of considering the positive points in your life can successfully distance you from negative thoughts that hinder laughter and happiness.
- Learn to gravitate toward laughter. Sometimes, laughter and humor are private, a shared inside joke among peers. But in most cases, people are happy to share something funny since it gives them a chance to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter around friends and family, don’t hesitate to seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?” and “Can I get in on that?”
- Surround yourself with playful people, if you are in the mood for high energy. These are fun people who are unafraid to laugh at themselves and at life’s ridiculousness, and who routinely find the good and funny in most situations. Their fun-loving nature and laughter can be contagious, even if you don’t consider yourself lighthearted or humorous like they are.
- Start a humorous conversation. It’s normal for people to avoid laughing or being funny while in the presence of someone carrying a heavy burden like cancer. To make them feel more at ease during visits, go initiate a humorous conversation by asking a question like “What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?”
- Watch something funny. If all else fails, at least one of these 200 Best Comedy Series of All Time is sure to make you chuckle.
When the demands of cancer overwhelm you, remember that laughter can help you cope from a physical, mental, social, and spiritual standpoint. Nothing else works faster and more effectively to bring the mind and body back into harmony than a good laugh.
Depending on your age, family history, and lifestyle, cancer can be “natural,” and so are some of the best treatments for it. For safer and less-invasive therapies, call New Hope Unlimited today at 480-757-6573 to schedule a consultation. We specialize in alternative cancer treatments for over 200 types of malignant diseases.