By Michele Herenstein

My last article, “Speech to a Suitcase,” was a parody of the stress of packing and unpacking. I figured there must be a way to relieve the stress, besides going to Suitcase class. And what I came up with is humor. Humor is a stress reducer!

“Humor is a wonderful stress-reducer and antidote to upsets. It is clinically proven to be effective in combating stress, although the exact mechanism is not known. Experts say a good laugh relaxes tense muscles, speeds more oxygen into your system, and lowers your blood pressure. So, tune into your favorite sitcom on television. Read a funny book. Call a friend and chuckle for a few minutes. It even helps to force a laugh once in a while. You’ll find your stress melting away almost instantly. Americans were attracted to humor from the stories of Norman Cousins, who had successfully overcome cancer by watching comedy shows on television. These days, there are organized humor meetings even in places like India where laughing in public is not considered good manner.” (Holisticonline.com)

When you look for a new friend, or a life partner, is laughter a characteristic that you look for? My best days are the ones in which I speak to my best friend before we start our “work” days, and we laugh and smile, telling each other that we made each other’s day. Says Elizabeth Scott, M.D., “Getting your friends on board with laughter can be an excellent way to make the laughs come more easily. They can help you find the humor in life, and you can help them. Share your thoughts, share your jokes, and share this article—you’ll all be laughing in no time!” (Verywellmind.com)

There are so many things to laugh about, from watching someone try (and fail) to hula hoop to watching (meanly) someone rappelling and hanging by a thread all the way down, while they struggle to hold on. Okay, maybe that’s not funny, but sometimes moments of danger bring about the greatest laughs.

When I laugh with a friend or family member, it releases tension I never even knew existed. I used to think that running was my high, or eating caramel cake (yes, I am serious), but laughter is now my number one. I feel happier when I’m laughing. There’s a release of the tightening of my body muscles. It continues to relieve tension for hours to come.

I’ve had troubles in my life, and laughter definitely helps the sadness and anxiety. It’s no wonder I have friends who care, and who like to laugh.

Smiling has benefits as well; besides a smile often leading to laughter. “Years ago, when Oprah had a show rather than a network, she did a segment on Laughter Yoga that intrigued me, and I researched a club on my own, finding it to be a terrific place to enjoy a good laugh. Whether you’re taking the laughing seriously or laughing at the silliness of it all, taking part in the exercises of laughter yoga with other humor-participants can be a very effective way to get back in the practice of getting some more giggles into your day. (Elizabeth Scott, verywellmind.com).

“Laughter is the Best Medicine! What does that really mean? Documented research has shown huge benefits for our bodies when we laugh 15–20 minutes at a time. It lowers our blood pressure, cholesterol, increases oxygen, aides in immune systems, changes attitudes, eases pain, and send lots of good endorphins throughout our bodies…and much more. And laughter is free!

Benefits of Laughter Yoga:

  • Fun and relaxed exercise for wellness and happiness
  • Instant stress-reliever to improve immune system
  • Keeps you in a cheerful mood through the day
  • Oxygenates brain and body to make you feel energized
  • Promotes a positive outlook in life, especially in trying times” (Laughteryogafun.com)

When I was little, I used to giggle a lot. I was sort of shy, but giggling was my release of embarrassment. I still giggle when I feel shy, when my friend tells me funny stories, or when we make up different lives we could be living. It always releases some tension.

The goal of comedians is to make people laugh. This goes back a long way, from Bob Hope and Johnny Carson to Mrs. Maizel and Sarah Silverman. A bunch of other comedians are/were Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, Jack Benny, Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman, Dean Martin, Milton Berle, and Rosie O’Donnell. And these are just several of hundreds. Good comedy brings smiles and laughter, relieves tension, and is calming. While taking in jokes, stress is pushed aside. As it should be.

Different comedians have different tactics. Some have one-liners. Some tell stories. Some use their life stories to make fun of themselves.

Ellen DeGeneres said, “Life is short. If you doubt me, ask a butterfly. Their average lifespan is a mere five to fourteen days!”

Bob Newhart said, “I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down.’”

I love these jokes because you have to think to get it. It’s not simplistic.

I just got off the phone with my “bestie” and she told me I bring sunshine into her life. We chatted and our conversation made my day.

My readers, find that person who makes you laugh, who makes you giggle, who brings the sunshine into your life.

Life isn’t all roses but laughter can eliminate the thorns. Good luck, and laugh out loud (LOL). You deserve to be relaxed and stress free, to the best of your ability.

If you want to laugh with me, e-mail me at Laughoutloud@gmail.com.

Have a laugh-long day!

Michele Herenstein can be reached at msh61670@gmail.com

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