by Elizabeth Neumaier
The idea that a few chuckles can diminish the effects of illness has been around for a long time. And why not? If stress can cause illness, which has been well documented, then why not laughter as another means to start the road to recovery? Norman Cousins, author of the Saturday Review, brought this old idea into popular thought back in the 70's after writing a book about his own illness. He checked out of the hospital, stopped the drugs, and started a regime of Candid Camera, Laurel and Hardy, and Marx Bothers episodes, and mega doses of vitamin C. He found he could sleep for several hours after his doses of laughing and eventually recovered enough to go back to work.
What actually happens is that laughter removes stress hormones, raises T-cells (which fight disease), and B-cells (which raise production of destroying antibodies). Endorphins are raised, which are the body's painkillers, and increases the sense of well-being. Laughter also releases muscle tightness, especially in the neck and shoulders where a lot of people carry their stress. Hospitals routinely engage clowns and magicians because it has been found that children's pain thresholds are raised for a short time after laughing.
If you think about this idea, it is so true. Do you remember the last time you had a good belly laugh, or went to a party where you laughed most of the night? Didn't you feel good afterwards? Didn't it carry over into the next day, too? My son and I used to go to the same school and drive together each morning. Thursdays were the best mornings because the radio program we listened to had "bad joke Thursdays." We would listen to the jokes on our drive and then get to school and try to remember one to tell a teacher or friend. We always made it through the ride with a feeling of lightness and eagerness to start the day.
There are websites devoted to severely depressed individuals that include joke sections. If you can get a very sad person to laugh at the world or themselves, they can carry on so much better. So my advice to you this month is to go find a joke that you think is especially funny and tell it to as many people as you can. Spread the joy! Help people feel better!
Here are a couple to get you started:
How many meat-eaters does it take to change a light bulb? None--- they'd rather not see how their food is made.
What do you call a vegetarian with diarrhea? A salad shooter.
Hope you have a great week!
Health and nutrition therapy by appt.
Libby Neumaier, Naturopathic Educator
Women With Wings, Committees chair
Libby Neumaier is a Naturopathic Educator and working on her Masters of Naturopathic healing. She and her family have been vegetarian for 11 years and Vegan for 5. Libby has been a member of VIM (http://all4vegan.net/) for two years and is active in the vegetarian community with animal rights and educational outreach. If you have questions regarding Vegan nutrition please feel free to e-mail her.