Humour might not heal all ills, but a good laugh definitely does you more good than harm.
Psychology and neuroscience professor Robert Provine took a look at the science of laughter in his 2000 book Laughter: A Scientific Investigation.
Interviewed for an article on WebMD in 2008 (see below) he said the definitive research into the potential health benefits of laughter had yet to be done. Provine says while there is research showing laughter’s positive impacts, it is unclear whether having a good scream might not have the same physiological impact as a good laugh. Or that laughter’s ability to dull pain might be more to do with being distracted than having your funny bone tickled.
What is agreed is that laughter:
- Stretches and stimulates muscles across your whole body, so can help relieve tension and increase endorphin release by the brain
- Stimulates your stress response by making your pulse and blood pressure go up and then down, leaving you potentially more relaxed
- Makes you breathe faster, so increases your oxygen intake throughout your body
- May keep blood flowing normally (research has indicated blood vessels of people watching drama can tense, restricting blood flow when compared with people watching comedy)
- Is associated with easing pain and causing body to produce its natural painkillers
- May help release neuropeptides that help fight stress and boost immunity
- Can help lessen mild depression and anxiety.
So while the jury may be out on whether laughter is the best medicine, there is definitely a strong case for prescribing yourself a giggle, chortle or full belly laugh to be taken as needed.
You know you’re a nurse when…
- You don’t get excited about blood loss … unless it’s your own.
- You find yourself checking out other customers’ veins while queueing at the supermarket.
- You believe that unspeakable evils will befall anyone who utters the phrase: “Wow, it’s really quiet, isn’t it?”
- You’ve ever had a patient look you straight in the eye and say: “I have no idea how that got stuck in there.”
- Your idea of fine dining is sitting down to eat.
- You believe the inventor of call bells has earned a special place in Hell.
- You’ve ever heard a patient with a nose ring, a brow ring, and 12 earrings say: “I’m afraid of shots.”
- You can keep a straight face when a patient responds: “Just two beers.”
- You believe chocolate is a food group.
- If someone coughs and brings up sputum in front of you, you have the desire to know what colour.
- You’ve seen more penises than any prostitute.
- Your talk of wounds and drainage in a restaurant makes the people at the next table run for the door.
- You’ve ever restrained someone … and it wasn’t a sexual experience.
- You can almost SEE the germs on the doorknobs and telephone.
- After spending the night with surgeons, they still won’t respect you in the morning.
- Your idea of a meal break is finishing your coffee before it gets cold.
- You are counting your husband’s pulse while he sleeps and worrying because he is wheezing on exhalation.
- You believe experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
- You look at even your own bowel movement to make sure it’s okay.
- You consider a tongue depressor an eating utensil.
- Family and friends call you to describe their injuries over the phone.
- You call some of your co-workers ‘flowers in the field of medicine’ because they’re bloomin’ idiots.
- You want to throttle anyone who states: “Night shift must be so boring, all the patients do is sleep.”
- You ever wished that they would make corrugated catheters to use on really annoying patients.