Unemployment can sap our joy for life. Research tells us, over time, it can have a negative impact on our emotional lives, marriages, children and physical health. Because the emotional impact of unemployment is so pervasive, we have devoted our blog to promoting research based strategies you can use to maintain your emotional wellbeing. Perhaps one of the simplest approaches is to make sure you include laughter in your daily life. Does this sound strange, maybe even ludicrous? Let me give you some background.
“Unemployed and Feeling Down? Try Laughter!”
June 21, 2011 by John Manni & Doug Barton
Over 30 years ago Norman Cousins published “An Anatomy of an Illness.” Mr. Cousins, a writer who spent close to 40 years as editor of the Saturday Review, contracted a life threatening illness. After being told he had little chance of surviving, to cheer himself up he began watching Marx Brothers’ films that made him laugh deeply and often. He recovered, and inspired by his experience, he began researching the biochemistry of human emotions. We now know that stress stimulates complex biochemical responses. Our bodies respond to stress by producing chemical agents, such as cortisol, which have a negative affect on our health and wellbeing. Prolonged stress is particularly damaging to our bodies and immune systems. Laughter is a great way to decrease stress hormones and increase other hormones such as endorphins, which are associated with relaxation.
Let’s jump to a more current story. Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician in India, has become so convinced of the power of laughter that he has started laughter groups that meet each day. The groups participate in 15 to 20 minutes of laughter. Initially, deep belly laughter is forced. After a short period of time, the group inevitably starts to laugh spontaneously. Dr. Kataria contends that deep belly laughter, even if faked, helps discharge stress and elevates your immune system. An excellent video describing Laughter Yoga has been produced by the Discovery Channel and can be found on YouTube: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahhN3Ryw4O4). The video also presents research, which supports the benefits of laughter.
Laughter groups have spread to many countries including the U.S. While you might not be able to find a group, you can certainly give laughter a try. Watch a funny movie or go to YouTube and watch some funny videos. I’m betting you will feel more relaxed after some old fashion belly laughter.