Laugh It Up
Exercise your funny bone by finding humor and spreading it
THEY SAY LAUGHTER is the best medicine … yet it's
also contagious. Who are they exactly, and why are they trying to
Okay, that was a lame attempt at a humorous icebreaker. Now that
said ice is indeed broken, let's get serious about laughter. You
know a giggle feels good and a from-the-gut guffaw is even better,
but can laughing really be good for you? You bet your whoopee
Numerous studies have shown both the mental and physical
benefits of a good laugh, according to Brad Nieder, M.D., general
practitioner/comedian. Nieder shares a healthy dose of humor and
wellness advice with the many audiences he entertains across the
country as "The Healthy Humorist."
"Laughing reduces cortisol, that fight-or-flight stress hormone
in our blood, and produces a relaxing and calming effect," says
Nieder. "It also promotes IgA and T-cell activity, the immune cells
that protect us from illness." Recent research shows that even
theanticipation of laughter-that something funny is
about to happen-can also reduce stress.
These days, it can seem as if there's not much funny to be
found, yet it's needed more than ever. Here are some ideas to help
you add a little joy to your world-and put a smile on the faces of
your loved ones.
Enjoy a funny movie or a favorite sitcom with your family. While
a chuckle in front of the TV can't fix everything, it can certainly
lighten your load. "Worries about jobs and mortgages and credit
cards are a big deal, and watching a comedy won't solve those
problems," says Nieder. "But an opportunity to escape and enjoy a
little levity can help provide a glimpse of the light at the end of
Get into the act
Treat your family or friends to an improvisational or stand-up
comedy show. Feeling particularly brave? Visit on amateur night and
try your hand at cracking others up. If you can't take the whole
gang out, create your own comedy routines at home. Who didn't stage
elaborate productions for friends and relatives when they were
kids? Show your offspring how it's done, and then let them
Give yourself props
Keep items around you that make you smile, like a funny picture
from your last vacation or a goofy toy you can pass around with
your co-workers. "I have daily ritual with a page-a-day humor
calendar. It's my morning laughter pill," says Nieder.
Find the humor, pass it on
Just like our other individual tastes, everyone's sense of humor
is unique. But there's plenty to laugh at all around us. "Turn on
your radar and find the absurdities in everyday life," says Nieder.
"It's out there waiting to make you laugh." Once you find your
funny place, spread the laughter. It'll come back to you.
-By Allison Thomas