The Importance of Laughter

We talk all the time about wellness tools that can help us maintain a healthy state of mind and body while we fight illness. IBS can have so many different types of negative effects on our lives, that we should have as many tools as possible to fight against them. I have heard very often heard that smiling and laughing can be a wonderful wellness behavior. Unfortunately, I have been told that I am too serious. :-)

Being "serious" is my nature

I do tend to be a bit serious. It’s just my nature. I like to play around and joke with my family, close friends and especially my children, but I would not describe myself as the life of the party. In my time as a social worker and as a person who suffers from physical (IBS, ulcers, gastritis) and mental illness, I have attended a LOT of support groups. I am very serious about managing my IBS and other health problems because I want to be as happy as I can be. Almost all of those groups suggest – no, insist – that humor is good medicine. I can’t deny that but I have a hard time incorporating this medicine into my illness management. Lately, I have been trying and I would like to share the importance of what I have found.

Attempting to smile even when I do not want to

I was in a support group one day and the group leader suggested that when you are feeling really bad, that you should go to a mirror and force yourself to smile for 10 seconds. Apparently, (I am no scientist) endorphins, feel-good chemicals, are released in the brain when you smile. So, I decided to try this exercise. Only, my attitude was all wrong apparently. I wanted to smash the mirror because I was in no mood to smile. I couldn’t let go of what was wrong, enough to do this seemingly simple exercise.

Remembering this wellness tool the other day, I thought I would give it another go. This time it went better, and I did feel better. I have been doing it every day since and it has helped quite a bit. The other thing I have tried to do is be more aware of my self-consciousness in social and work conversation situations. I believe we all have a built-in sense of humor. Some of us have a dry sense of humor, some a little wacky, witty, self-deprecating. I have been able to find mine and be comfortable enough to use it, with really good results. Not only for my personal relationships but for my own well-being.

It is OK to laugh

Probably, the most immediate result has come from altering the types of things I read and watch on television and movies. I love history and books about war, political maneuvering, and other very intense subjects. I enjoy intensely, sometimes tragic, movies and television shows. Someone asked me what my favorite comedy was the other day, and I had no idea what to say. Kinda sad...but I'm able to fix that. I made a list of all the ‘best’ comedy movies and shows I could find and started incorporating them into my ‘to watch’ list. I haven’t changed completely, nor should I. I am who I am. The point is that humor is one more fantastic tool to add to your wellness toolbox to help combat IBS and most any other type of illness.  If you haven’t accepted some laughter into your life, you may be missing out on a really good way to feel a bit better.

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