Laughter Pills

by Rosa Carlisle

We all wish to live and experience joy.  As a caretaker, it is difficult to feel happy when there is always someone depending upon you. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the duties of care-taking.

Doctors tell us if we experience these stressful situations often, the body reacts in much the same way it would if we met a Grizzly Bear face to face.Our body continuously produces stress chemicals and hormones, that never have time to dissipate. These poisons remain in our body at dangerously high levels and attack our health and immune system.

The results of the chronic activation of our stress function include most of today’s major medical conditions and illnesses:  heart, depression, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, and allergies.

Instead of staying strong and healthy, the caretaker now becomes the one who needs help. How do you cope?

Laughter is natures own stress buster. Yes, it is the best medicine. Laughter speeds healing. It’s a natural painkiller (endorphin) that relieves aches and pain and makes us feel safe and happy. Fear and anger can fade away as you laugh.  Laughter offers ways and means to cope with stressful situations and anchors you to the present. Tense situations between you and another person diffuse. You begin to understand the person in a new light.

“A few minutes of hearty laughter causes our body to dump a ‘happy cocktail’ of chemicals and hormones including endorphins into our cells.

This cocktail lowers blood pressure, increases vascular flow, and boosts the immune system. It raises the body’s oxygen and energy levels.”

“It also affects our mental processes: Depression is lifted and one is left in a positive state of mind. Optimism, communication skills, and creativity are the side benefits. You’ll feel good all day. One of the benefits of laughter is that it keeps you in the present moment, which is the only time of real joy.”

quotes from Dr.Madan Kataria

While humor causes laughter, it also involves cognition. As adults, we usually think first whether or not something is funny before we laugh, unlike children who laugh for no reason.  Its difficult for adults to laugh if there is nothing funny to laugh about. And the people we care for may not have the cognitive skills to understand the humor.

Now there is a new way to laugh without depending upon jokes,comedy, or humor. Laughter Yoga was started by Madan Kataria, a medical doctor in India. This phenomenon is spreading around the world as people report that laughter breaks the hold of unhappiness,pain, and stress.

Anyone can laugh without a reason in laughter yoga. It involves laughing exercises in groups with childlike playfulness and eye contact. Soon, it becomes real and contagious. It has been scientifically proven that the body doesn’t know the difference between real and simulated laughter but the health benefits are the same.

The next time you’re overwhelmed with stress,  instead of stuffing your feelings or getting angry, take a laughter pill. Look in the mirror and visualize yourself as Queen or President then laugh heartily at the absurdity. Pass that smile or laugh to someone who needs it.  Although it may not change your situation, it can change your own perspective.

If you want to join a laughter yoga group, go to MeetUp.com to find a group near you.

or email Rosa laughterconnectionspinellasco@gmail.com

Rosa Carlisle is a certified Laughter Yoga Leader Caring Clown, and Hospice Volunteer 

CAREGIVERS YOU ARE NOT ALONE