Word-Of-the-Week #846: Humor

October 22, 2020 by  

Humor – that which is intended to induce laughter or amusement. 

How would you rate your sense of humor? Did you know that laughter can improve pain tolerance and ease anxiety and depression?

This week and next features excerpts from the San Diego UT article by Beth Ward on The Power of the Punchline. Health benefits of a good laugh are no joke. Physical reaction to comedy can help ease stress, aid focus, even boost long-term well-being.

                    “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die                                            and you need this medicine as much as I do.”

                – ABRAHAM LINCOLN, SPEAKING TO HIS CABINET MEMBERS, 1862

Forests burning, hurricanes multiplying, America’s racial history haunting us, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, election worries and economic woes — people today are facing our own fearful strains.

Yet, while some of us might be hesitant to crack a joke or share a funny animal video, we need humor now more than ever.

Among its many health benefits, laughter can increase how much oxygen you breathe in, which stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and relieves stress.

“We’re able to take in more air when we laugh,” said family medicine physician Hans Crumpler of SharpCare Medical Group, Chula Vista. “While someone’s telling a joke, think of the tension that builds up before the punchline — the ‘ha-ha’ moment is the release of that tension.”

Handling stress with a chuckle can also help your memory and focus.

“How many times do you get to the grocery store and someone takes your parking spot, or someone cuts you off in traffic? The stress response to those kinds of aggravators can distract from why you were there,” Crumpler explained.

“The brain focuses on the aggravation. You arrive home to realize you’ve forgotten the bread or the eggs. Adding humor to the situation can distract you from that and allow you to retain your memory and primary purpose.”

Laugher can also have long-term effects, releasing stress-fighting neuropeptides that help stave off potentially more serious illnesses, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Other advantages of laughter include improving pain tolerance and easing anxiety and depression.

 This week’s focus is on humor. Feeling stressed out lately? When was the last time you laughed out loud? How did that make you feel? Research tells us that a good chuckle releases stress and adds to a healthier life so make that a daily goal!

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