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Laughter is the best medicine I have

Humor, laughter and smiling one of the greatest weapons of the chronically ill.

Smile on: The mighty power of the smile is held in the fact that when you smile your brain thinks hey there must be a reason for that smile and so I should be happy..."Facial feedback works because the brain senses the flexion of certain facial muscles (like the zygomatic major, which is required to smile) and interprets it as “Oh I must be happy about something.” Similarly, if that muscle isn’t flexed then your brain thinks, “Oh, I must not be happy”. In addition to the direct neural feedback, in the real world you also get the added advantage of social feedback. Smiles are infectious (perhaps another post on mirror neurons in the future). So even if you don’t feel much happier, the people around you are more likely to smile, and that can improve your mood as well." (Psychology today) And released endorphins even when the smile is forced. I never knew this but I knew that I could not go to work with a upside down smile. No one likes a debbie downer, man. Bad for business. So I'd fake a smile, until I could really fake a smile, until the smile was real, or really faked. It does improve your mood. You want to be around happy people, you want to keep your mood up, you want to avoid negative people. Smiling is that first step. Goes a long way.

Humor: "In one review on humor in medicine, the most promising results with the use of humor is patients’ response to pain. In studies that evaluated patients’ pain after their exposure to comedy videotapes, the videos improved pain tolerance and reduced the need for pain medications. Similarly, patients’ exposure to humorous videos increased salivary IgA levels, a measure of immune function. Humor may also have positive effects on heart disease, diabetes, blood flow, and depressive symptoms."The Network

Those of us with chronic illnesses we have our chronic illness humor don't we? And I love all that. We should be able to joke about the nuances of our illness... it relieves some of that tension. I love them. Love to share them. Helps us relate to each other else as well. All humor is important in our lives. But 'sick' humor has a place as well. It is not all doom and gloom... and a billion inspiration quotes. I joke about my illness all the time. It makes it less stressful to me and to my spouse. Makes it easier on others. But sick humor amongst ourselves are the things we get and can laugh about because we all 'get it'.

Laughter:    Laughter itself is to be encouraged at all times. I have used humor as a coping mechanism and a facade in the workplace. I liked to make others laugh and smile so I could laugh and smile. By joking around I could boost my mood and mask my pain better as well. I like also to seek hour humor. I enjoy laughing. I enjoy being goofy. I enjoy watching shows that will make me laugh. Books that will make me laugh. People that will make me laugh. I always say it is a mood enhancer. If you don't focus on the pain and use laughter it gives the brain the happy drugs it wants which boosts the mood, despite the pain. So I seek it out and create it when I can. This is only possible in the mid-range of my pain. The higher ranges I have more problems, but with my spouse I will still have our little jokes.

Stress relief from laughter

A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
Short-term benefits
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Long-term effects
Laughter isn't just a quick pick-me-up, though. It's also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:
  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and make you feel happier.

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