Perhaps you’ve heard the old expression describing laughter as “the best medicine”? Today, a growing body of evidence supports the health value of positive emotions and laughter. These findings may help improve the daily lives of elderly patients undergoing senior therapy and rehabilitation, in fact.
Some Physical Effects of Laughter
As a patient, Norman Cousins famously documented the positive impacts of laughter on himself several decades ago. His work helped inspired physicians to pay closer attention to the physiological benefits of upbeat emotions. Today, strong evidence suggests a positive mindset and frequent laughter actually hold value from a health standpoint. Just consider a few of these results:
- Blood Pressure: Laughing stimulates a brief rise and fall in blood pressure and heart rate. The gradual relaxation after a period of sudden laughter provides a comfortable release of tension.
- Endorphin Release: Laughing (like acupuncture) causes the body to release endorphins, powerful pain suppressing chemicals which contribute to the pleasant sensation of a “runner’s high” after healthy exercise. Endorphins circulate through the bloodstream and contribute to a patient’s sense of happiness and well-being.
- Stress Reduction: Today, many physicians believe laughter holds important benefits in reducing stress. This process benefits many systems in the body, including muscles.
- Circulation: Laughter actually promotes the dissemination of oxygen to vital organs. The brief stimulation of the circulatory system may play a role in encouraging better relaxation.
- Immune System: Over the long term, laughing frequently holds benefits for the body’s immune system. The ability to maintain positive thoughts during a sustained period of time offers important health benefits by allowing the body to respond more effectively to damaging stress.
Important Implications For Patient Care
These findings carry some important implications for anyone furnishing long-term care. By encouraging a cheerful, upbeat atmosphere, caregivers help promote the well being of everyone at the facility. Patients who laugh frequently and experience happiness and other positive emotions during a typical day enjoy a much better quality of life than those who suffer from protracted isolation, loneliness, or depression. They may feel less stress. Frequent laughter contributes to stronger immune systems and better overall health. Encouraging residents to participate in inclusive, fun activities appears to hold long-term health benefits!