Sunday, March 11, 2018

How Laughing May Ease your Way through Menopause?

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old,
you grow old because you stop laughing.”
—George Burns

For many women, menopause with its myriad of debilitating symptoms is not a laughing matter. But there’s a growing body of medical evidence to support comedian George Burns’s theory that laughter is the best “youth serum” there is.

According to several reliable authorities, including Cancer Treatment Centers of America and the Mayo Clinic in the USA, as well as Dr. Robert Holden, founder of the Laughter Clinic and Happiness Project in the UK, laughter has a positive, life-enhancing effect on your overall health, wellness, and your physical appearance.

One of the recent studies out of Loma Linda University evaluated the relationship between the stress hormone cortisol and short-term memory in participants who were in their late 60s.

In this study, researchers showed a 20-minute comedic video to a group of healthy elders and to another group of elders who had diabetes. The researchers then assessed the participants’ memories to determine learning, recall and sight recognition. The results of these assessments were then compared to a control group of elderly people who had their memories assessed but who did not watch the comedic video.

The researchers’ analysis found that learning ability improved markedly for both groups that watched the video (38 percent in the healthy elderly group and 33 percent in the diabetic group, as compared to 24 percent for the control group). Furthermore, delayed recall also was much better for the two groups that watched the video (44 percent for the healthy group and 48 percent for the diabetic group, as compared to 20 percent for the control group). Visual recognition also was higher for the video groups (13 percent for the healthy group and 17 percent for the diabetic group, as compared to 8 percent for the control group).

In an additional part of the study, the participants who watched the comedy video had their levels of cortisone recorded both at the beginning and the end of the experiment.   The analysis of the saliva test found borderline significant lowering of cortisol levels in the healthy elderly group that watched the video and significant decreases in this hormone in the diabetic group. The control group (which didn’t watch the video) didn’t experience any changes.

"It’s simple, the less stress you have, the better your memory. Humor reduces detrimental stress hormones like cortisol that decrease memory hippocampal neurons, lowers your blood pressure, and increases blood flow and your mood state," said Dr. Gurinder Singh Bains, the study’s lead author. "The act of laughter or simply enjoying some humor increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward. These positive and beneficial neurochemical changes, in turn, make the immune system function better. There are even changes in brain wave activity towards what’s called the ‘gamma wave band frequency’, which also amp up memory and recall. So, indeed, laughter is turning out to be not only a good medicine, but also a memory enhancer adding to our quality of life."

Yes, menopause often coincides with many stressful events in life, such as having to take care of elderly parents, impending retirement, children getting married and moving away from home, and a growing awareness of the physical changes that come with age. Any one of these life events can increase your level of stress.

When you add menopause to the equation, it’s all too easy to lose your sense of humor. However, making the effort to lighten up and exercise your sense of humor has many benefits. In addition to being a natural medicine that can positively impact your overall health and well-being, laughter lifts your spirits, makes you happy, and helps you feel more alive, attractive and empowered.

Here are just a few of the benefits that derive from exercising your sense of humor on a daily basis during menopause:
1.       Laughter relaxes your entire body, thereby relieving physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterwards.
2.       It boosts your energy.
3.       It improves your resistance to disease. Laughing decreases stress hormones, which in turn helps boost your immune system and improve your body’s ability to resist illness and ageing.
4.       It’s good for your heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
5.       Laughter eases digestion, soothes stomach aches and helps lower blood sugar levels.
6.       Laughter burns calories. OK, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn about 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
7.       A good laugh helps you forget your problems and worries
8.       Laughter strengthens social bonds and relationships by binding people together and increasing intimacy and happiness
9.       It releases endorphins; the body’s feel good hormones. The better you feel, the less likely you are to get stressed. Endorphins have also been shown to relieve pain and increase your overall sense of well-being
10.   Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don't laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

If you’re struggling to find the funny side of life, then it’s worth spending time with funny people who make you laugh, or turning on the TV and watch a comedy show. On the days when you just can’t see the funny side of life, fake it!

That’s right. Smile!

It might feel odd to start with, but smiling or forcing a laugh will trick your brain into thinking you’re happy, causing it to release the same “feel good” hormones as if you were smiling naturally. If no one is around, try smiling at yourself in a mirror or pulling funny faces for a few moments. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you will find yourself feeling calmer and happier. Your menopausal symptoms will ease, your eyes will light up, your skin will glow, and you will look and feel fabulous.

How to bring more laughter into your life?

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Here are some ways to start:
·         Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter and like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling. Instead of looking down at your phone, look up and smile at people you pass in the street, the person serving you a morning coffee, or the co-workers you share an elevator with. Notice the effect this has on others.
·         Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
·         When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
·         Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious. Even if you don’t consider yourself a lighthearted, humorous person, you can still seek out people who like to laugh and make others laugh. Every comedian appreciates an audience.
·         Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”

Sources and Additional Information:

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