“Laughter, the Best Medicine”

Is a good dose of laughter a day able to keep your heart healthy? Nobody knows for sure why laughter helps protect the heart. We do know that laughter reduces stress. Too much stress will eventually cause fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries, which will lead to a heart attack (Murray 1). Heart disease is mostly caused by lack of exercise, smoking, and eating foods enriched with saturated fat. A pessimistic outlook on life may also cause the disease, but humor is difficult to study. In America, heart disease is the number one killer.

Is the easiness of attaining humor another role in living a healthier lifestyle, one can really only find out for themselves (Murray 1). “Research suggests that happier people get less sick, explains the reassuringly down-to-earth immunologist Professor Luke O’Neill of Trinity College Dublin” (O’Connell 1). “Believe it or not, rats laugh. Yes, when the critters are not busy spreading plague or urinating in canals, they like to have a good old chuckle if you tickle them of when they play with their friends” (O’Connell 1). According to Rod A.

Martin, there are four mechanisms that might relate humor to a healthier well-being. “First, laughter might produce physiological changes in various systems of the body, which may have beneficial effects on health” (Martin 216). Authors have suggested that laughter exercises and relaxes muscles, betters respiration, increases circulation and the production of pain-killing endorphins, decreases the production of stress-related hormones, and enhances immunity. Everyone can benefit from laughter; there are no physical consequences (Martin 216). Second, humor and laughter might affect health by inducing positive emotional states, which may in turn have beneficial effects on health, such as increasing pain tolerance, enhancing immunity, and undoing the cardiovascular consequence of negative emotion”. Other emotions, such as joy, amusement, or love, are able to induce positive moods. Going out and doing fun activities may help health (Martin 216). “Third, humor might benefit health indirectly by moderating the adverse effects of stress on health”. Stress weakens your immune system, and increases risks for diseases.

People with a sense-of-humor are able to deal with stress better and not let it affect them in a way to where it lessens the stress-related physical consequences. Studies have shown that laughter during non-stressful situations is not as affective as laughter during stressful situations. Also certain styles of humor are more affective than others. For example, sarcasm is not that affective (Martin 216-17). “Finally, humor may indirectly benefit health by increasing one’s level of social support”. Sense-of-humor helps people with relationships, intimate or not, by reducing tensions and problems.

Humor helps a person appear friendlier or more attractive; people will want to be around that person more because of the optimistic atmosphere (Martin 217). Most of the studies that have taken saliva of blood samples from people before and after a comedy video showed major changes in some of the components of immunity. However since the studies had no real control on some factors, it is difficult to create a firm conclusion (Martin 217). Another study showed that people with higher scores on a sense-of-humor test were less likely than people with lower scores to display a stress-related reduction in immunoglobulins over one and a half months.

Individuals can make their own decisions as to whether laughter helps immunity or not (Martin 218). Studies have shown that laughter increases blood pressure and heart rate during short periods of time, but there are no long-term affects. A survival analysis indicated that children of twelve, with a high rate of cheerfulness, had higher mortality rates. This is not real proof of a sense-of-humor causing people to live longer. We are not for sure on laughter and its affects on living longer and blood pressure, but laughter does make situations brighter; less stress will help you live longer and reduce blood pressure (Martin 218). A number of studies have examined potential analgesic effects of laughter by testing participants’ pain threshold or tolerance before and after exposing them to comedy videotapes… There is also some evidence from field studies that the analgesic effects of humor observed in the laboratory may extend to clinical interventions, but only with mild to moderate levels of pain ” (Martin 218). “Laughter is therapeutic with children. It relieves tension, increases curiosity, and gives children a sense of mastery over their surroundings”.

Humor helps increase children’s bravery when going to see a doctor. Humor also helps develop a better relationship with a person’s physician. That person may take the physician more seriously and listen to the doctor’s orders. Humor can help the heart at an early age and in the medical environment (Bennett 1258). Nurses spend a lot more time with patients than doctors do. Nurses bring more humor and laughter to the patient and help improve the mood and quality of the patient. Nurses do have to be careful to use humor at the right time and place, and to avoid sarcastic, sexist, or racial humor.

Patients use humor to reduce the anxiety and frustration at the hospital. Humor helps make the hospital a friendlier and inviting place; a patient should feel comfortable, especially when dealing with their health. When nurses and doctors use humor with their patients, their patients may have a chance of healing faster or better, depending on the problem (Bennett 1258). Humor also helps the doctors and nurses when they are dealing with patients. Humor helps create a positive attitude at work and improves working relationships. Laughter helps convert bad feelings into good ones.

Humor between doctors and nurses should stay between doctors and nurses. This kind of humor is joking around about their job, or making fun of it; to other people these jokes could be hugely misunderstood. Humor between doctors and nurses is healthy when used in an appropriate way. Humor may be beneficial to the doctor and the nurse’s health (Bennett 1258-59). Teachers use humor as a tool in teaching their class. “The staff members think that humor reduces stress, increases motivation and comprehension, and aids socialization into the profession. (Bennett 1259). Students will be interested and pay attention to funny teachers. Humor helps students learn more and look at studies in an optimistic perspective. Humor should be used in small amounts, overdoing it may cause the student’s mind to stray. Humor is not only good for just the medical field, but any field. In any situation, where there is teaching something new, there should be a little bit of humor. Helping people with humor can lead them to help themselves. Benefitting your health can occur anywhere, whether learning or working (Bennett 1259). Humor has been published in the medical literature for more than one hundred years in a wide range of journals”. Humor is in pretty much any genre of literature. When humor is in literature, it captures the reader’s attention. When studying the readings, readers will remember more because of the jokes and humor. Everyone reads, and reading is healthy for the reader’s mind; but also healthy for his or her heart and immune system, if they are getting fits of laughter in with every other page (Bennett 1259). Humor is healthy.

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