The case for humor

BY LYN HESTER Published: June 25, 2010
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The concept that emotions, such as laughter, affect our overall well-being is not a new one. Now there is growing evidence of the link between our immune systems and laughter.

Stress related illnesses – ulcers, migraines, hypertension, and depression account for 70 to 80 percent of all doctor visits. In a nation that spends some $75,000,000 on prescription drugs (and that's just the legal ones), we often overlook the coping mechanism with which we have been naturally endowed – HUMOR!

Laughter has been proven to reduce stress, boost immunity, relieve pain, decrease anxiety, stabilize moods, rest the brain, enhance communication, inspire creativity, maintain hope and bolster morale.

Margeret Stuber, professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at UCLA says: "I think we're going to learn that exposing yourself to humor in life will not only change moods and reduce stress hormones but also influence serotonin levels, which are involved in the pain control system. That would mean laughter could have an effect on chronic pain over time, enhance immune systems, help with depression as well as sleep and anxiety disorder."

Humor gives us perspective. It momentarily removes us from the situation and allows us to look at the world a little differently.

Victor Frankl, who spent years in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II stated in his book, Man's Search for Meaning: "Humor was one of the things that helped people survive in the camps. Finding things to laugh at helped maintain a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

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