When I was undergoing cancer treatment, several people who visited me seemed to struggle with my sense of humour. They apparently felt it was inappropriate to do battle with a life-threatening disease with a smile on my face and making flippant remarks.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), that’s me. I find something to joke about in every situation. Often people don’t get the point, or don’t appreciate it. My school teachers certainly didn’t. But when it comes to fighting cancer, the two well-worn statements below are indeed true.
* “Laughter is the best medicine.”
* “Humor and laughter are the most undervalued and underrated tools in society.”
The powers of humor and laughter are numerous. Not only do they make us feel good, research has shown that . . .
- Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and raises the level of the T-cells, the key component of the body’s immune system.
- Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins which are natural painkillers, and laughter is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter or someone with the giggles is far more contagious than any cough or sneeze.
- Laughter binds people together and gives them a shared senses of happiness and closeness.
- Laughter helps strengthen their immune system, boosts their energy levels, helps to decrease pain, and gets their minds off the damaging aspects of the stress in their lives.
- Laughter relaxes the body. It relieves tension and anxiety, often for a good hour or two after.
- Laughter stretches the muscles of our face and body. It causes our pulse and blood pressure to go up, and we breath faster.
Steve Wilson, MA, CSP, a psychologist and laugh therapist says, “”The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar. Combining laughter and movement, like waving your arms, is a great way to boost your heart rate.”
It may not be as easy as it first sounds. It depends on her nature to a great degree. I personally find slap-stick humour quite silly, and while the rest of my family double up in laughter, I sit straight-faced through it all. I guess it goes to show we’re all different! I’ve been known to give my kids the giggles when they were younger. They were no longer laughing at the film, they were laughing at me with my expressionless face!
So how can you bring laughter into your friend’s life?
Here are some suggestions, but remember, some will work better than others. Don’t be afraid to fail. Experiment and see what works for your friend. (Don’t forget, I’m writing as if the friend is a She. Everything written applies to the He as well.)
- You could try having a girl’s night in, and hire some funny movies. Invite some mutual friends over, wear pyjamas, eat popcorn (if she’s allowed to), sprawl on the furniture and carpet, and just have a blast.
- Get some friends over and agree to share some funny stories. A different twist is that no one may laugh. The first to smile has to pay some sort of forfeit. (Like strike a strange pose. Nothing that will embarrass your friend.)
- Play with a pet. Perhaps borrow a kitten from someone for the night, and give it a ball of wool.
- Go one step further and give her a kitten. (Check this out with her doctor first). Pets in themselves are therapeutic.
- Share a smile. Sit in a circle with your friends. The first one smiles at the second, then wipes the smile from her face. The second person smiles at the third, and again removes her own smile. The smile gets passed round and round the circle. If you’re not passing or receiving the smile, you must keep a straight face. Usually it won’t be long before everyone is helpless with laughter. The winner is the one who makes it to the end without cracking a smile out of turn.
- Share with your friend silly moments. Tell her something silly you did and have a good laugh about it. Then ask her what she’s ever done that was silly and laugh at that.
Read about this fascinating experiment taking place in England, where about 20 people get together each day Monday to Friday for ten minutes to laugh. Sounds ridiculous? Read Now There’s Proof. Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine. Could you and a couple of pals start something like this with your friend?
Laughing is not going to cure cancer or any other disease for that matter. But if it makes your friend feel better, if it gets her mind off her pain and helps her destress, is it not worth the effort? After all, it doesn’t require a prescription, everyone involved will feel better, and it’s free!
After all that? Fancy a good laugh? How about joining these quadruplets enjoying their funny daddy!