“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.” That’s a quote from the 19th century British poet, Lord Byron. Medical science in the 21st century is taking him up on his advice. It is becoming more and more common for doctors to recommend this “funny” medicine that is free…and has no negative side effects.
Medical and psychological research are now taking laughter seriously and studying its benefits in people of all ages. One such study was conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. They found that people with heart disease are 40% less likely to laugh (even in positive situations) than people without heart disease. Laughter seems to protect the heart, although they don’t know how at this point.
A hearty response to humor may have other benefits, as well. Maybe that’s why Milton Berle felt “Laughter is an instant vacation.”
Humor, and its resulting laughter, make you feel good on 3 levels – emotional, cognitive, physical. Here are some of the ways in which a good belly laugh may pay off.
- Lowers blood pressure and improves circulation.
- Boosts the immune system.
- Relaxes muscles.
- Massages the major organs in the body.
- Reduces stress and anxiety, while helping to cope with scary and unpleasant situations.
- Relieves pain, distress and grief.
- Relieves headaches.
- Lifts your mood and increases energy.
- Improves brain functioning and clarity.
- Breaks down communication barriers and connects you with other people.
Show Me The Funny
You can improve your sense of humor. Increased exposure is the key. Focus on placing yourself into more experiences that will make you laugh.
- Watch funny movies/TV shows and read funny books. Include a humor break in every day.
- Socialize with funny people and those who see the bright side of things. On the other side of the coin, avoid the negative types.
- Observe (and play with) children and animals. They will help you find amusement and amazement in the simplest things.
- Look for (and laugh at) the absurd and silly things that happen in everyday life.
- Share your fun. If you hear a joke you like, tell it to others. If remembering jokes is not your forte, write it down and practice telling it so you get the timing right. The same goes for funny situations and anecdotes.
(Sources: Assn. for Applied & Therapeutic Humor, Univ. of Maryland Medical System, HolisticOnLine.com)
Who’s At Risk?
There are over 3 million people in the U.S. that are afflicted with glaucoma, of which half don’t know they have it. Although, anyone can be a victim of this disease, some people face a higher risk for contraction. They include:
- People over the age of 60. The risk increases as the age of the senior increases.
- People of Afro-American descent. They have an incidence rate of glaucoma that is much higher than the rest of the population and are stricken with the disease at younger ages.
- People suffering from diabetes.
- People with a family history of glaucoma.
- People with a high degree of nearsightedness.
- People who have had an eye injury or eye surgery.
- People who have taken steroids for long periods of time.
(Sources: National Eye Institute, Glaucoma Research Foundation)