The serious side of humour

Laughter, they say, is the best medicine… I’m starting to think that there is a lot of truth to this popular statement. Researchers for years have been lauding the benefits of humour and its healing abilities, both physical and psychological. Laughter, studies have shown, lowers your blood pressure and helps your heart beat more smoothly. It relieves pain and reduces inflammation. It helps your immune system fight germs but leave your healthy tissue alone. Not to mention it brightens your mood and the moods of everyone in ear shot.  For people living with diabetes, laughter has a lot of positive benefits.

What’s funny about having diabetes? While diabetes is a serious condition, psychologists will tell you that humour is a great way to put it all into perspective and relieve stress related to the disease. In addition to that, studies show that laughing lowers your levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol increases insulin resistance, while adrenaline tells your liver to pump more glucose into your blood. This is how laughter helps lower blood glucose and keep it down for quite a while.  Theresa Garnero, a healthcare worker and cartoonist described the benefits of humour on www.dlife.com:

  • Enhances communication – A little humor helps to break down awkward moments.
  • Allows for expression of anger – Language was invented in order for people to communicate, whereas humor was invented in order to complain. Dealing with a chronic disease can trigger anger and humor is a wonderful way to help process the emotions.
  • Benefits health –  Laughing increases endorphins, decreases blood pressure, decreases pain, and decreases anxiety.
  • Reduces stress – Having diabetes is stressful and humor can help to relieve this burden.
  • Promotes learning – Turn the “ha, ha” into an “aha” moment. The laugh-learn connection is well documented in the literature.
  • Lowers blood glucose (sugar) – A research study from Japan showed that those who watched a brief comedy show after eating had lower glucose values that those who did not see the program.

Researchers are now saying laughter can bring balance to all the components of the immune system, which helps us fight off diseases. Laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. In doing this, it provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that swing into action in our bodies when we experience stress, anger or hostility. These stress hormones suppress the immune system and raise blood pressure. When we are laughing, natural killer cells that destroy tumours and viruses increase, as do disease-fighting proteins and cells that help in immune response.So get laughing!! One great site I found has been LOL Diabetes, a blog where users can post funny stories, pics and comments to help those diagnosed with diabetes cope with the difficulties of living with the disease and to boost the body’s ability to stabilize blood sugars and reduce cardiovascular complications often associated with diabetes. Plus it’s fun!

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