Bulletin: New cure for depression?
Laughter seems to have a curative effect on all forms of illness and disturbance. It is being used to help patients with problems as diverse as depression, high blood pressure and cancer. It is hypothesized that laughter stimulates the immune system. Psychotherapists have begun incorporating humor in the treatment of mental and emotional disorders.
Cognitive Effects of Humor
When we are open to humor, we seem to change our mind set from a serious, rational and objective view of reality to a more playful and creative one. Instead of seeing one view of things we are willing to turn things around and upside-down to see other perspectives. We are able to see that no matter how serious things seem, there is always another view. This more flexible way of thinking gives us relief from our cognitive "ruts" and stereotyped negative thinking.
Emotional Effects of Humor
Humor is associated with pleasurable emotions such as joy, lightheartedness and playfulness. We feel like children again when we laugh. We become more spontaneous, open and less defensive. The unpleasant emotions of anger, sadness and anxiety are incompatible with this spirit of playfulness and we are released from their grip when we enter our fun zone.
Biological Effects of Humor
Humor seems to interrupt the stress response and the arousal pattern of the autonomic nervous system. Laughter opens up breathing, stimulates the immune system and increases tolerance to pain. The result is a decrease in stress hormones and an increase in healthy antibodies. Laughter is indeed the best medicine.
Open yourself to humor. Adopt the funny life style and share it with others. Read and tell jokes. Watch humorous movies and television. Stimulate your amuse system. Get serious about humor.
To learn how to use humor to reduce stress, read Loretta Laroche's book, Relax-You May Have Only a Few Minutes Left : Using the Power of Humor to Overcome Stress in Your Life and Work.
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