Rain or Sun, we always have a choice to laugh out loud. Not scientific enough to believe?! Since Science is the demand of the paradigm, it becomes necessary to mention that rigorous scientific research on laughter has highlighted the innumerable benefits laughter has for our overall well-being: Physiological, Psychological, as well as Social.
Needless to say treatment of cancer is extremely hectic for the patient and also the loved ones who go through the whole process vicariously. It might seem to be be strange or crazy idea to laugh through treatment of such a severe disease.
However, laughter itself is a medicine prescribed for us by nature. That is exactly why we are born with this gift to laugh. Laughter therapy uses this gift of laughing as a significant part of the overall treatment. It is known to have benefits beyond one’s imagination.
Laughter therapy is utilised as complementary therapeutic intervention along with the medicinal treatment of cancer. It is known to enhance the overall quality of life of cancer patients and their loved ones through the treatment phase and even during the recovery phase.
During treatment for cancer, a patient and his/her loved ones go through phases of distress, hectic treatment schedules, and emotional as well as physiological pressure. All these are factors that negatively impact our immunity and thus, might deteriorate the recovery progress for the patient and also put loved ones’ health at risk.
Here is how laughter therapy aids in physiological health and recovery for cancer patients:
- It helps to maintain a healthy heart. A lot of cancer patients get additional issues like hypertension during and post treatment because of the excessive stress they undergo. Laughter can help deal with such issues. It leads to release of endorphins in our body which are hormones that beat stress and increase the supply of oxygen rich blood to our heart, this indeed is beneficial for the heart.
- Endorphins are nature’s pain relief gift to us humans and are known to reduce feelings of pain in the body. Chemotherapy and radiation sessions and their after effects produce a lot of pain both emotional and physical to the patients. Laughter can help with this pain reduction too.
- Laughter also relaxes the whole body, and relieves excessive muscle tension. Laughter is an exercise, a whole body workout, for our abdomen, shoulders, legs, facial muscles, etc. It helps to maintain optimum level of fitness and resilience for cancer patients during the course of treatment and post treatment too.
- It also enhances the immune system and can lead to better responding to medication and makes the patient less vulnerable to catching additional infections.
- A lot of hospitals around the world are now embedding ways to promote laughter in their treatment regime. They emphasise on patient visits to an area or room where different activities like laughter yoga are conducted, or different resources like comedy movies, funny videos, books, toys, etc. are present. Laughter clubs are also installed in many medical facilities and outside as a healing tool for patients and their loved ones.
- Laughter thus helps in prevention, in building more resilience and immunity during treatment, as well as in sustaining recovery and enriching quality of life post treatment.
All of us are faced with difficult circumstances, how we appraise them and respond to them matters. When you know you have to go through a difficult phase, then why not smile and laugh to sail through the storm, since stress won’t help; and laughter doesn’t cost anything. I implore you to make the right choice.
Here is Seth MacFarlane, creator of comedy animated series South Park, American Dad, Family Guy, and hilarious Hollywood movies as TED and TED 2, he talks about the importance of laughter in connection with Cancer awareness.