Alternative Medicine: Laughter

Laughter. I’ve heard it’s “the best medicine.” Now, I’ve probably had just about every medicine out there, and let me tell you, there’s some stiff competition out there.

I have found that laughter can be stronger than any of the IV antibiotics I take for my lungs, and more relaxing than any sedative or anesthesia. A good belly laugh can do amazing things.

Science tells us that laughter releases the feel-good hormones called endorphins. It’s known to relieve pain and anxiety. Laughter is also great cardiovascular workout. You can also burn extra calories by laughing. Don’t believe it? Have you ever literally fallen down while laughing, or got stuck, bent over, stomach cramping, and having to catch your breath as if you just ran a mile? Have you laughed so hard that your sides hurt? Those are your muscles working!

This is me, right before major sinus surgery, goofing around as usual! And this is BEFORE any loopy medication!

This is me, right before major sinus surgery, goofing around as usual! And this is BEFORE any loopy medication!

With so many ups and downs with my health, I deal with a lot of strong emotions. Fear, anxiety, anger, uncertainty are all capable of taking me down like a lion does a gazelle. It’s a contradiction, I know, but in the weakest moments, something has to take over. I can choose to focus on the negative, or redirect my mind to something funny.

The emoticon for "embarrassed."

The emoticon for “embarrassed.”

Sometimes I laugh at inopportune moments, like when I’m nervous or receive bad news, but what can you do when it’s an involuntary physical reaction? Like burping or sneezing, there isn’t much you can do to stifle a laugh that is determined to get you. And knowing how good it is for me? All the more reason to let the giggles take over!

It sounds cliché, but humor is one of the most important aspects of my marriage. My husband tickles my funny bone so easily. Perhaps it’s  his analytical side – he’s really clever. But he also has this amazing, huge, laugh-out-loud laugh that infects everyone else in the room. He starts laughing and it gets me going, and well, before we know it, I’m so out of breath that I’m reaching for my inhaler.

Blue Russian cats are the jesters of the cat kingdom.

Blue Russian cats are the jesters of the cat kingdom.

However, as naturally as laughing can occur, it doesn’t always come easily. When I’m not feeling well, I look for the funny.

I often need to look no further than my own living room. Our two cats provide lots of entertainment – it slays me how they wiggle their butts before pouncing, chase each other up and down the stairs and treat any cardboard box like an amusement park. Of course, they try their best to maintain a sense of decorum. Ever see a cat miss a landing or fall off its perch? They immediately start grooming themselves, as if they meant to do it. Just don’t laugh at them. They don’t like that.

"Simon's Cat" is an animated character who stars in his own videos and comic books.

“Simon’s Cat”

I’m not the first person to take note of cats’ proclivity to get into silly situations – just look at sites like “LOL Cats” and “Grumpy Cat.” Cats have become notorious fodder for the funny.

Screen capture of actress Rachel Dratch in one of the funniest SNL sketches ever aired. She's not crying, she's laughing!

Screen capture of actress Rachel Dratch in one of the funniest SNL sketches ever aired. She’s not crying, she’s laughing!

Another place I look when I need to laugh are video clips. Bits from Seinfeld or sketches from Saturday Night Live are my favorites. I love when cast members on SNL start to laugh and break character. I’ve been there – live performances are risky for that very reason. Sure, it’s easy when you’re filming like on television or in a movie, because you can do another take. – Google “blooper reels” and you’ll find hundreds of videos of news reporters, actors and other performers who couldn’t stifle the giggle. One of favorites is a sketch of “Debbie Downer” in the episode featuring actress Lindsey Lohan – Every character loses it and has to leave the stage.

So now I want to know, what makes you laugh? Comment below and share what gets your giggle going!

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