Some years ago, Norman Cousins wrote the book, “Laugher is the Best Medicine”. In it, he told how watching Marx Brothers movies, and laughing, helped him heal from an illness. Since then, psychologists and medical researchers have found that in addition to helping you fight illness, laughter really does help promote serenity.
As a Certified Empowerment Coach, I often “prescribe” putting more fun and laughter in my clients’ lives. It’s a great way to de-stress, release tension, and find more peace and happiness – especially at the top of a New Year. Let me tell you why…
Make Time to Laugh in 2014
Did you know that at the start of a New Year people are more prone to depression than throughout the rest of the year? It’s true. Studies have shown that instead of looking forward to a new year starting, many people are down in the dumps during January. Why?
Some of it is “holiday hangover” – coming off the roller coaster of emotions and expectations, magnified family issues, which the holidays can bring. Holiday bills start coming in which can aggravate already existing financial problems. But, a larger part of it has to do with just feeling a year older and not having accomplished what you wanted last year.
There are a number of ways to deal with the “January let-down”, but adding more laughter to your day can make you feel better fast. So, how much time do you laugh a day, a week? Once…twice…none? Laughing even a few minutes a day is like an aerobic workout for your spirit. It boosts your motivation and drive to accomplish things. Here are some other things laughter does.
1. Boosts your workout efforts. Laughing – especially really, hearty, belly-roll laughter – can help you burn more calories. It ups your heart rate and metabolism so that even a modest 15 minutes of laughing burns 50 calories, that’s 350 calories a week, or the equivalent to that piece of cheesecake. It even helps tighten abdominal muscles, like doing crunches without the misery. So laughter can assist your New Year resolution to lose weight and tone up that midsection!
2. Lowers blood pressure. If one of your resolutions was to decrease your stress levels in 2014, you’ll be tickled to know that just a little bit of laughter everyday goes a long way. It helps relax blood vessels that drive up pressure – and works even better for men. In men, laughing releases oxytocin which also helps smooth out vascular tension and lower pressure.
3. Boosts your immune system. If a resolution was to get healthier in 2014, spending a little more time having fun and laughing can help. As laughing reduces stress hormones, it boosts the production of white blood cells which helps fight infection and disease.
4. Helps you sleep better. By helping you relax and release muscular tension, mental strain and anxiety, laughter helps you sleep better. Sleeping deeper longer is necessary to maintain health and boosting your mood.
5. Promotes relationships. Friends, couples, families who laugh together, stay together. Laughing with someone enables you to bond with them and feel closer. It does this perhaps by decreasing tension and boosting endorphins and oxytocin – the “love” chemical – but studies have shown that people who laugh together stay closer.
So, What Makes You Laugh?
Okay, now that you know adding more laughter to your life will help you actually achieve those personal growth resolutions for 2014, here’s some ways to laugh more.
1. Comedy nightclubs. Grab your spouse or a friend and head out to the nearest comedy nightclub and let a standup comedian make you laugh while you enjoy a drink or meal.
2. Play Games. Game arcades like Dave and Busters, etc, offer a variety of fun adult-based games to play while you get something to eat or drink. There’s also Laser Tag, Paintball, Whirly Ball, or even just playing charades with your grandkids.
3. Rent Comedy Films. Try some Will Farrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd movies to get more than a few laughs for the buck. Some hilarious ones are The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, Funeral Crashers, Dinner with Schmucks. But don’t forget the oldies but goodies either – The 3 Stooges, Marx Brothers, Steve Martin comedies, Pink Panther series, etc.
4. Learn Some New Jokes. Nothing cracks you, and others, up faster than a good joke. Having a few new jokes to tell the people around you can help put a little laughter into everyone’s life. Your local bookstore carries collections of jokes and you can even go online to places like CleanJoke.com, or Jokes4Us.com that have a variety of jokes you can learn.
The important thing to remember is that Life will always have some issue in it that threatens to sap your joy and turn your smile into a frown. But, the best way you can fight back is to try to find 1 thing to laugh about every day. You’ll make yourself feel better immediately and it will actually help motivate you to keep moving forward in a positive way.
Dale Brown, B.A., M.S., C.E.C.
Certified Empowerment Coach