He who laughs…LASTS

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In my practice, humour has become a powerful technique in helping clients look at many aspects of their lives and find the ability to see humour in them. When used appropriately, this perspective can prove extremely therapeutic. That is to say, we need to develop the ability to laugh at ourselves during the really tough times in our lives. It is humour that can provide us with a sense of control over the stress that goes along with battling an illness or tragedy, break up, giving us a feeling or more control of our daily moods. Laughter helps us sustain an upbeat, optimistic frame of mind, even on the bad days. This more positive emotional state helps give us the resilience we need to cope with the next problem thrown our way. A good belly laugh also boosts our energy level on the days when we don’t even feel like getting out of bed. Humor and laughter provide a means of “letting go” of the anger and anxiety that builds up on bad days. Finally, laughter also reduces muscle tension.

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Humour has tremendous health value (Wooten, 1999):

  • It can lift our spirits and energy level – when we are feeling down, everyone enjoys a good joke
  • Humour can replenish us from compassion and fatigue; when dealing with a very stressful situation, a joke often alleviates a great deal of tension
  • Humour is a perfect antidote for stress: by stimulating the immune system, offsetting the immunosuppressive effects of stress, it helps us avoid burnout
  • It can be an empowerment too- giving us a different perspective on our problems, and with an attitude of detachment, we feel a sense of self-protection and control in our environment.
  • It integrates and balances activity in both hemispheres of the brain, as it involves the whole brain

There exists a myth about laughter that seems to prevent us from laughing much more than we ought to. That is the belief that we need a reason to laugh. As Dr. Annette Goodheart, author of Laughter Therapy states, “While reasoning is good, it can help us solve daily problems, discern information, and create a plan of action…however, when it comes to laughing and enjoying the experience of laughter, reasoning can stop us” When we see people laughing, the first thing we say is, “What’s so funny?” As if we always need to have a reason. Think about it, when a 6 month old infant is smiling, do we ask them, “What’s so funny?” No, we simply enjoy the moment, often laughing along with them.

So even though there is no evidence that humor and laughter add years to your life, humor can certainly add life to your years!

Corrie Sirota-Frankel, M.S.W., P.S.W.

Corrie holds a graduate degree in Social Work as well as a graduate certificate in Loss and Bereavement from McGill University, where she has been teaching for the past 20 years.

Corrie has worked in the Montreal community for over 2 decades developing and facilitating psychosocial prevention and intervention programs for individuals, groups, families and children.

She is a well known and seasoned guest speaker, having presented at numerous workshops and conferences across Canada and the United States. She has been interviewed by many local radio and TV programs on a variety of topics including child development, bullying, Internet awareness, effective communications and loss & bereavement.

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Cappino Physiotherapy and Wellness Center offers innovative, hands-on treatment techniques to heal injuries faster and to improve quality of life.

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