In places of extreme stress such as: hospitals, war zones, sites of disasters – spontaneous humour is often evident. It is a way that people in intolerable situations deal with their stress, loss, and anxiety.
Even though the humour is often grim, it works. It meets an immediate mental and emotional need and, in addition, is beneficial to the physical body. Laughing relaxes the facial muscles and lungs and releases endorphins, the agents that increase a feeling of wellbeing.
In therapy work at a veteran's hospital, the patients were being treated and prepared for re-entry into the community. The normal approaches were producing a steady but slow modification in the veterans' behaviour. When laughter therapy was added to stress reduction therapy, it made a strong, positive difference in behaviour.
The therapist first asked the group members to think of a funny situation, a joke, or a comical movie. During the Induction, some of the patients began to laugh aloud, the laughter quickly became contagious, and all the members of the group joined in.
All the patients were animated and smiling. Even patients who had previously been extremely depressed joined in the laughter. Perhaps most Important is the fact that this momentary Improvement led to accelerated rehabilitation, resulting in permanent positive changes for most patients.
So next time you feel life getting you down, think of something that is funny and let yourself laugh hard, long and loud and share the wonderful gift of laughter with everyone around you.
Wellbeing Practice - Therapy Today for a Better Tomorrow