COMEDY: LAUGHTER AS THERAPY

COMEDY: LAUGHTER AS THERAPY

Comedy, generally any discourse or work done with the intention of being humorous or amusing an audience usually in skits, television, film, stand up comedy or other forms of entertainment provides more than just laughter. In a 2008 study published by the American Physiological Society, researchers discovered that the mere anticipation of laughter lowered the levels of three stress hormones. Cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine levels lowered by 39, 70 and 38 percent respectively. Laughing also increases both heart and respiratory rate. This results in a subsequent decrease in heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Laughter is what they say it is: the best medicine.

Comedy provides an avenue to help people stay happy and forget their problems. Laughter also helps improve mental alertness, creativity and memory. In a study conducted at John Hopkins University medical school, humour during instruction led to increased test scores. Laughter is not only good for the mind, it helps the body by relaxing muscles and providing defence against respiratory infections. When people laugh together, they form a natural bond that enhances their working relationships. This is why laughter is much needed in the work place. Charlie Chaplin was right when he said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

Having a sense of humour keeps people healthy as it helps reduce stress and anxiety. Improvised comedy helps increase the ability of the audience to listen and experience the environment around them. Comedy that is guided by a mental health professional gives that feel of group therapy. It is more fun to laugh and see the humour in difficult situations. Laughing helps us not to dwell on negative situations and results more positive thinking. There are laughter therapy groups available for people that want to laugh in individual and group sessions such as the UK Laughter Network.

In 1979, Norman Cousins published in his book, “Anatomy of an Illness,” how he discovered the benefits of humour and other positive emotions in battling a disease he contracted in 1964. Dr William Fry, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, California began to examine the physiological effects of laughter in the late 1960s. He showed that laughter causes the body to produce natural painkillers known as endorphins. In September 2011, researchers from Oxford University published research that demonstrates that continuous laughter increases pain threshold by as much as ten percent.

Comedy is more than entertainment, it is therapy for many people. Laughter has helped individuals deal with depression, pain and anxiety. Comedy brings people together and helps them form life time relationships. Laughing at problems may be what you need to find a solution. That ticket to a comedy show, the YouTube skit that makes you laugh, a funny friend or co-worker, may be what you need to be happier. Always remember to not take yourself too seriously and have a good laugh, while working hard and having fun. Comedy is therapeutic: ensure you get some laughter and calm your nerves.

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