Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

You have all heard this before I am sure, or at least I am fairly certain you have. Is laughter really the best medicine? It depends on what ails you, and it has no solid record as a cure for any serious disease like HCV. But nonetheless it can help us deal with the difficulties we face when living with a chronic illness and all the baggage that comes with it.

It can sure be hard to laugh when you feel awful with what feels like endless nausea, killer fatigue, joint pain, and all the rest. It is not funny or fun at all, and don’t I know it too. As funny as a heart attack comes to mind, but wait! It is not our illness that is funny, is it? That doesn’t mean we can’t find sanctuary in humor.

What makes you chuckle? A funny joke, and even a bad one, a groaner can help with releasing endorphins, which has been studied as being beneficial to our emotional wellbeing. Stress and illness are inseparable for most of us, and ways to reduce stress help to improve health, which is a form of medicine. Stress causes all sorts of problems for us. Often we think of the emotional impact of stress but there are physiological changes that stress causes.

In my own experience with a condition called Cushing’s syndrome I learned about something called cortisol. Because of my condition the cortisol levels were out of control and it caused the weirdest things. It turns out that stress causes high levels of cortisol, and that leads to all kinds of health problems, especially over time.

Humor can help with stress, and this is no big new thing I know, but seeking out ways to laugh and enjoy the effects of laughter will help. A funny TV program, funny movie, stand up comic, an online joke or humor site may suit your style. I sometimes find humor in the strangest of places, and like laughing a lot and often at myself. I laugh at the ways words sound when I say them and how phrases work. I am also fascinated by idioms. Crazy me, I like words and get a chuckle here and there throughout my days. OK, maybe weird, but what the heck it works for me. People fascinate me too, and watching people can be fun. People do the funniest things; say the oddest things…all of which is humorous to me. It doesn’t cost me a penny to do these things. They are not big things, but it is after all the simple things, which give us the most pleasure, to risk sounding cliché.

Laughter and humor will not cure you of hep C we know and it will not solve every problem we face, but it will go a long way in helping us to cope with the challenges we face in the journey.

Did I ever tell you the one about the…[insert your favorite joke here].

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