Who knew? Laughter really is good medicine! It even has its own medical term—laughter therapy—and for good reason. A big belly laugh not only feels good, it reduces physical tension and stress, relaxing the muscles for up to 45 minutes. A good roar can boost the immune system, release feel-good endorphins and improve vascular health. What’s more, it’s good exercise. Laughing 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn up to 40 calories. And would you believe it can even make you live longer? One study showed cancer patients with a good sense of humor outlived their more solemn counterparts.
There’s no doubt about it—laughter improves quality of life. That is why it is being prescribed as a free and natural way to promote overall health and wellness. Explore several laughter therapy exercises and practices you can share in your clinic. It’s contagious—but we’re sure your patients won’t be afraid to catch it!
- Smile: According to science, our faces reflect what we’re thinking. That being said, we can change our emotional outlook by simply changing our facial expression. Smile when you’re feeling down. Laugh when stress is high. The simple, conscious effort of smiling or laughing releases endorphins that trick the brain into forgetting stress, sadness or anger. You can remind patients of this, especially those facing an extended stay, with smile reminders. Imprint personal care or dental kits with the message: “Smile: Laughter is the best medicine!”
- Remember happiness: Sad patients may get the health benefits of laughter from going back in time. Not literally, but by reminiscing about happy, positive memories. Experts recommend focusing on a memory where the person felt safe, was surrounded by loved ones and was laughing. Simply connecting with this memory can provide patients all the health benefits of a good chuckle.
- Bring humor into the workplace: Sometimes, all it takes is a simple conversation starter to get the laughter going. Next time your staff members make rounds, they can ask a laugh-triggering question. For instance, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you this week?” Or, “Tell me about the time you laughed hardest.” Staff can dress the part by donning smiley retractable badge holders.
- Keep laughter in your bag of tricks: Does your clinic provide movies, magazines, books or other items in waiting areas? Forgo the stuffy news broadcast and investment journals and opt instead for funny pages, a joke book or a humorous family movie. These items help the wait go by while evoking healthful laughs. Filling out medical paperwork with laughing pens can’t hurt, either.
- Laughter yoga: The health benefits of laughter are so chic, there are even laughter yoga classes to promote it. Also known as Hasya yoga, laughter yoga involves prolonged forced laughing. Done with the right group, it inevitably turns into the real deal. Either way, participants benefit. Imprint links to local Hasya yoga classes or online versions on laughing stress relievers or stylus pens.
Truly, laughter can be the best medicine. Try one or all of these laughter therapy exercises and watch the crack-ups begin. What’ve you got to lose?