How Laughter Can Help You in Recovery
Laughter is excellent medicine. There are so many benefits to laughing that you might think people have healed from laughing alone. And actually they have! Laughing is something we often take for granted. Yet, there are certainly times in the lives of many people where laughter isn’t happening anymore. Perhaps that’s because of challenging circumstances or difficulties at work, home, or in relationships. It’s easy to go through life without laughing, or even smiling.
Certainly, if someone were struggling with an addiction, the only laughing that might take place is when they are high or drunk. But when they return to the reality of their lives, laughing might feel far away.
Recovery can include a conscious inclusion of laughter. Because it immediately changes one’s physiology, mood, and experience, laughing can even become a regular practice. In fact, there is a practice that millions of people use around the world called Laughter Yoga. It’s a form of therapy that is easy, inexpensive, and fun!
The Benefits From Laughter
There are many health benefits to laughing, both physical and mental. Laughing can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, increase blood flow, increase memory and focus, which are both often impaired during addiction, improve creativity, and reduce stress.
Perhaps you and a friend can read a joke a day to get the belly rolling and the smiles spreading from one ear to the other. Perhaps laughter can become a regular part of your recovery.
In fact, laughter is such a healing force that this was precisely the way that Norman Cousins healed himself. Cousins was an American political journalist, author, professor, and activist. He was also a Professor of Medical Humanities for the School of Medicine at UCLA.
As a professor, Cousins did research on the biochemistry of human emotions. He had already had the belief that feelings and emotions were the essence to healing and fighting illness.
When he battled heart disease, he worked to heal himself by taking large doses of Vitamin C and, as he put it, trained himself to laugh on a regular basis. And he did it again when he later was diagnosed with a form of arthritis then called Marie-Strumpell’s disease.
He stimulated periods of laughing by watching Marx Brothers films. “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter,” said Cousins, “had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep. When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval.” Cousins’ struggle with this illness is detailed in the book and movie Anatomy of an Illness.
Bringing Laughter into Your Life
And imagine if you were depressed, which can be a common occurrence with addiction. Laughter on a regular basis can help shift your mood, bringing in physical and emotional benefits on a regular basis. According to LaughterYoga.org, “Depressed people never laugh but if you laugh you’ll never get depressed.”
If you’re interested in bringing laughter into your recovery, check out Laughter Yoga. You’re likely to find a teacher of this modality in your neighborhood.
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