by Elaine MacFarlane, RN, BSN, CNN
Humor and laughter have been shown to have positive effects, especially when used in therapeutic settings. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain and conflict. Nothing works better or faster to bring a person’s mind and body back into balance than laughter. Laughter can be used as a tool to open the door for improved communication. It can also improve psychological and physiological functions.
Humor and laughter serve many functions, including:
- The ability to relax one’s entire body, thereby relieving anxiety, tension, depression and other stress-related conditions
- Boosting your immune system by decreasing stress hormones
- Releasing endorphins, which can promote an overall sense of wellbeing, temporarily relieve pain and decrease anger and hostility
- Improve the cardiovascular system by improving the function of blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the heart, accelerating breathing and increasing oxygen consumption
- Improving patient and caregiver communication by decreasing stress levels. It improves interpersonal gaps and, in certain instances, conveys caring. There have been studies that show that patients feel more satisfied and compliant when caregivers spend quality time with them.
- Improving morale among co-workers and promoting better working relationships