2008 Presidential Candidates! Who will win – McCain? Obama?
I hope these little finger puppets brings a little smile…:)
A physician in India, Madan Kataria, likes to laugh – alot. He believes laughter can function “like a benevolent virus,” and improve our health. So, a few years ago, he scaled down his medical practice and started developing laughter clubs, which consists of small groups of people coming together to spend a half hour laughing. There are about 2,500 laughter clubs around the world today, and the fastest growing are in the workplace. (1) Imagine the benefits of laughter on patients [clients]!
Therapeutic Effects of Laughter
Laughter has been attributed to improved health, increased life expectancy, and overall improved well-being.
Laughing stimulates the amygdala to release endorphins, reduce stress hormones, and provides postive interactions with others. Now, laughter is not the same as humor. Laughter is simply the physiological response to humor, and makes us feel good. The Journal of the American Medical Association (Dec 8, 1984) notes that laughter is associated with the neural pathways of respiration and limbic system (amygdala and hippocampus). (2)
A study demonstrated stress-related hormones decreased during episodes of laughter, which supports the idea that laughter can reduce stress. In the study, researchers found that anticipating and experiencing positive laughter boosted health protecting hormones, i.e., reduced potentially detrimental stress hormones, cortisol, epinephrine and dopac. (3)
Norman Cousins wrote about his experience with laughter in helping him recover from a serious illness in his book, Anatomy of an Illness As Perceived by the Patient. He stated that 10 minutes of deep laughter gave him hours of pain-free sleep. (4)
In 1989, the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) published an article written by Lars Ljungdahl who believes that “a humor therapy program can increase the quality of life for patients with chronic problems and that laughter has an immediate symptom-relieving effect for these patients, an effect that is potentiated when laughter is induced regularly over a period”. (5)
Florence Ditlow, RN surveyed 50 pre-op patients on the use of ‘humor education’ as a form of stress reduction. After surgery, the patients were told one-liners prior to administration of potentially painful topical medication – all perceived less pain. (6) As you can see, the release and relaxation of humor benefits patients/clients and professional caregivers, both physiologically and psychologically.
Rx Laughter (TM), is a non-profit organization interested in using humor for healing. They collaborated with UCLA to collect preliminary data on a sample of 18 children aged 7-16 years. Participants watched humorous videotapes before, during and after a standardized pain task involving placing a hand in cold water. Pain appraisal (ratings of pain severity) and pain tolerance (submersion time) were recorded and examined in relation to humor indicators (number of laughs/smiles during each video, and ratings of how funny the video was). The results of the study suggest that humorous distraction is useful to help children and adolescents tolerate painful procedures. (7)
If you want the bibliography for Laughter in Healthcare, please email me.