A New Kind of Therapy

springbloomThe last six weeks have been really great. May and June in Montreal are fantastic. We rarely get to spend any length of time in our own city during the summer due to travelling for work. It’s quite strange to see leaves on tree sand to smell the flower-perfumed air. The city undergoes a transformation as everyone exhales a sigh of relief as the sun comes out and les terraces open on the street.

Last week Willy pointed something out that made me think: “You’re laughing a lot more lately.”

“You’re just funnier,” I replied.

“No,” he commented, “My jokes are the same. You just laugh more.”

I’ve been thinking about that since then. We had been laughing a lot more lately. We’ll laugh into near hysterics, tears welling in our eyes because we were so funny. There is so much laughter in our house and in our relationship especially lately. Humour has been a key part of our relationship — I’ve always found his wit hilarious — but apparently, I just hadn’t been finding things as funny.

Life has just been a lot easier in the last 6 weeks. Things have been more low-key, no stressful deadlines or decisions to make.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with my dad sometime during my first semester at University. I was driving home from school with him and I was stressed, although I didn’t realize that I was. I just felt rattled and not very happy. He said something that made me laugh and I couldn’t even describe how good it felt. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t laughed in a lot in awhile. I made it my goal that weekend to do just that: laugh.

When YouTube is the prescription

You’ve heard people say “laughter is the best medicine” but did you know that there’s actually such a thing as laughter therapy? It sounds a bit ridiculous at first, but when you think about it — why the heck not?

This HowStuffWorks article points out that all kinds of studies have been done on how laughter impacts our mental and physical health, many of which were instigated by this one guy Norman Cousins:

When Cousins was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, he was given very slim odds of recovery. He was unable to move and in constant pain. However, in the midst of this dire situation, Cousins didn’t lose his sense of humor. He credits his recovery to a prescription of “Candid Camera” episodes, Marx Brothers movies and funny stories read by nurses. With 10 minutes of laughter, he wrote, two hours of pain-free sleep could be procured. [Source]

Here’s what some of the studies found:

  • Watching funny shows increased children’s tolerance for pain, which could be helpful when tiny patients have to undergo big procedures [Source]

  • “Positive” humour styles build resiliency in life [Source]
  • It reduces stress (we all know that!) and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease [Source]
  • It can help your bottom line in businesses [Source]
  • Elevations in natural killer cell activity consistently appeared in quantitative experimental studies and now some nurses are being trained in ‘laughter therapy’ to help their patients reduce pain, tension etc. [Source]
  • Humour can increase hope [Source]

Laugh or Cry

My husband has a saying he says frequently when things are kind of crappy: “Well, you can either laugh or cry.” We do our best to try to laugh about things instead of cry, which isn’t always easy (but easier when you’re like me and find irony and have a “dark” sense of humour). A few weeks ago we spent a few hours in the ER because I had passed out on the metro. Despite being there 5 hours, it didn’t feel painful and terrible even though there were people moaning and groaning in pain and the whole atmosphere was pretty depressing. Willy can’t help but be funny and crack jokes a lot. So there we were busting our guts, guffawing for a solid 5 hours. It turned out one of the funnest evenings we had had in awhile!

So what about you? What makes you laugh? Do you have a TV show, a YouTube series, or a favourite comedian that you turn to when you need a good laugh? Have you ever tried to “force” yourself to laugh when you were feeling down?

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  • Silas Wong

    I can’t imagine guffawing for 5 hours in the ER. Haha… Was Willy *that* funny or did you also add exo-Willy humour to the time? The whole concept is amusing itself.

    • http://jessversteeg.ca/ Jess Versteeg

      I think he’s that funny! When we first met at Staff Conference I realized I was one of the only people consistently laughing at his jokes. We’re made for each other… even our humour!