Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Laughter - It does a body good!

The Natural Stress-Free Living Newsletter, sent to subscribers on August 18, 2006

(April 2009: The Natural Stress-Free Living Newsletter is no longer being published. Instead, you may subscribe to my weekly Stress Relief Tips newsletter which usually includes a video link so you may watch it, too!)

I have long been an advocate of alternative medicine and mind/body connections. I do absolutely believe that the body contains the knowledge and ability to self-heal any disease that manifests, especially those problems which arise as the result of physically, mentally, or emotionally stressful living conditions. As I researched the topic of stress and laughter, a startling pattern emerged; the yin-yang, point-for-point self-correcting counterpart for stress is laughter.
Here are a few of the main elements seen in stress reactions, the problems they cause, and the solutions and relief provided by laughter.
Blood Pressure
Stress: raises blood pressure; constricts blood vessels.
: lowers blood pressure, relaxes blood vessels.

Stress: raises levels of epinephrine, cortisol, and dopac.
: reduces levels of all of the above; releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers which also produce a feeling of well-being.

Immune System
Stress: suppresses immune system activity.
: raises levels of T-cells, B-cells, and immunoglobulin A; variously, these cells fight viruses, cancer and other tumors, and produce antibodies to fight infections. Not only have increases in immune system activity been recorded at the time scientific study participants were viewing a humorous movie, the elevated levels of some beneficial immune system hormones and cells actually carried over into the next day giving further protection from disease.

Muscular Activity and Elasticity
Stress: contracts muscles, causes tension and eventually pain.
: relaxes muscles.

Stress: shallow breathing is a frequent reaction; the reduced intake of oxygen results in reduced oxygen in the blood stream which adversely affects muscular tension and mental concentration; there is also the possible retention of carbon dioxide due to the incomplete exhalation of the breath.
: belly laughter actually has a cleansing effect similar to deep breathing because hard laughter forces old, stale air out of the lungs and expels any built-up carbon dioxide.

: promotes a lack of exercise; you want to get home and relax or “veg-out.”
: provides a great aerobic workout; researchers say that laughing one-hundred times is the equivalent of spending fifteen minutes riding an exercise cycle; one doctor has suggested that the heart works as hard during twenty seconds of laughter as it does during three minutes of hard rowing. Of course, no one in the medical community is suggesting you substitute laughter for exercise, but the aerobic benefit is substantial as a complimentary practice: how about watching a comedy while walking on your treadmill or riding your exer-cycle!

Emotions / Moods
Stress: associated with depression and sadness.
: produces positive emotions; can actually make you happy.

Social Aspects
Stress: people often isolate in an attempt to escape stressful situations; loneliness can lead to depression as well as severe physical illness. See the article Being with friends helps keep you healthy! on my blog.
: laughter is contagious – being around people who are laughing will make you laugh, too; fun social events bring people together where they find mutual support and friendship.

Now, if all that isn’t enough to prompt you into visiting a joke-of-the-day website or putting on your favorite comedy DVD, at least think about it.
Yes…even thinking about having a good laugh reduces stress and boosts the immune system! If you anticipate viewing a funny movie after work or know that you will be meeting friends for lunch and telling jokes, the levels of stress hormones in your body begin to fall, and endorphins rise; not “just a little” either. A small study revealed that participants who were told three days in advance of viewing a humorous video experienced a drop in stress-hormone levels and a rise in endorphins. Not only that….but the stress hormones continued to drop and the relaxing/good mood hormones continued to rise as the date to watch the humorous video approached. Ultimately, anticipation of this event effected a 39% reduction in cortisol levels, 38% drop in dopac levels, and a whopping 70% drop in epinephrine levels.
Thinking of having a good laugh is good for your hormone levels, but nothing is a substitute for the other health-related and socially beneficial actions of the real thing: Laughter.
Your body has the ability to detect and correct any imbalance, but only if you let your body work the way it was meant to work! Make opportunities for laugher! Schedule a lunch where everyone tells a good joke; subscribe to a joke-of-the-day website, listen to funny CDs or watch funny movies…with friends!!

I offer personal, confidential Stress Management Consultations and holistic, individualized relaxation programs tailored to your needs, lifestyle, and schedule.
In four weeks, I can help you reverse months or years of accumulated stress symptoms, maybe even keep you out of the doctor’s office and eliminate your need for prescription drugs that sometimes increase your problems with very undesirable side effects. You will feel better, sleep better, reduce your blood pressure, reduce or eliminate headaches and migraines, and back, neck, and shoulder pain. Your personal stress-reducing action plan includes my ongoing support because I love to help people Be Well ~ Naturally!
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1 comment:

Geraldine said...

What a great post Michelle! If someone could significantly reduce my stress level (or at least my negative reactions to it) they would be a miracle worker...tell me more... (an email would be great)

Huggs, G