Laughing is not something that comes easily to me and I have realized lately that I have actually forgotten how to. So, in the process of deciding I want to laugh more, I have learned that not only does laughter brighten your mood, it has healing affects as well. That’s good news for teens that need hope in their future.
The saying goes, “Laughter is the Best Medicine,” but is it? Does it really have the power to heal physical ailments? Upon doing my own research into laughter, I have found that there have been actual studies as to its ability to renew our bodies, whether young or old. Laughing supposedly produces what is called, “happy hormones.” These happy hormones, experts say, will fight bacteria and viruses. Deep down belly laughing for just 15 minutes can create enough aerobic activity to stimulate and increase these hormones and healing is accelerated when you laugh. Teens suffering from the winter blues, especially, can benefit from these “happy hormones” that are produced just by laughing.
Researcher Lee Berk also believes that “laughter is a state of ‘eustress,’” which is the opposite of distress. So just like anger can suppress the immune system, laughter can strengthen it. Laughter actually changes the body physiologically and causes the immune system to work opposite those caused by stress.
You may be thinking now, “But what if I just plain don’t feel like laughing?”
Let me share three things with you that will help answer that question. To illustrate the first one I will share an experience I had with one of my teenage sons recently. I was in a really grumpy mood one day… if I was a porcupine I would have thrown quills kind of grumpy… and my 13 year old teen son, who laughs at anything and everything, was annoying me. I asked him to do something for me and instead of doing it he was pestering his sister and laughing very loudly. Hearing him laugh so much just made me more irritable because it was starting to make me laugh too and I didn’t want to laugh. I wanted to be mad and irritable so I yelled out to him to stop laughing! Then later that evening we were playing cards, which is a “game,” right? Well he was playing around and laughing again and wasn’t taking his turn as fast as I thought he should, so I told him to hurry up and take his turn because I was not in the mood for playing games. Okay, go ahead and say it, “Here’s your sign.” Ha, ha, ha.
What’s the point of the story, you may ask? No matter how irritable or grumpy I am, when I am around him, he rubs off on me and I end up laughing hysterically with him. So as a teenager that needs to be able to enjoy life, how do you laugh when you don’t feel like it?
1) Surround yourself with friends and peers that are always happy and can make you laugh.
2) Fake It! (Use your humor mechanism)
Smile, laugh and giggle, now. Find your own sense of humor, and show it often. Look for ways to make your friends and even your parents laugh.
3) Did you know that there is an exercise called, “Laughter Yoga?”
“Laughter yoga is based on the scientific fact that even if you laugh for no reason, your body cannot tell the difference between real laughter and self induced laughter. The reason, Even if you don’t feel like laughing and you fake or simulate laughter, messages are sent through the body-mind connection that cause your brain cells to produce special chemicals called endorphins, also known as the ‘happy chemical’. Endorphins cause relaxation and good mood through positive physiological and biochemical changes.” You can find more info on laughter yoga at, http://www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm
4) Do an activity that promotes laughing; Watch a comedy movie or TV show. Read a joke book, read the comics…. Whatever works, just do it and laugh.
Seriously, it’s that simple and it’s working for me. Thank goodness I have teenagers that enjoy laughing and are teaching me the importance of laughter too. My prognosis; Laughter IS the Best Medicine, especially for teens. So if you are a teen in the world today where there is so much to be down about, I say just laugh. Laugh, be happy and be healthy.
For more information on Lee Berk’s research on laughter, go to, http://www.three-peaks.net/annette/Laughter.htm