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Help YourSelf
Laughter Rx

"If you can laugh at it, you can survive it." Bill Cosby.

The next time you feel a cold coming on, the best thing to do may be to fire up the VCR with a Marx Brothers movie-at least according to Dr. Judith Kupersmith, a neuropsychiatrist at Texas Tech Medical Center. It is well documented that stress provokes anxiety, is a serious threat to emotional health, and leads to a depressed immune system. Humor is one of the best ways to take the edge off a stressful situation, so it makes sense that laughing would help boost your natural defenses.

And the preliminary research seems to bear this out. Laughter lowers levels of the stress hormone serum cortisol, and increases the number of T-lymphocytes and T-cells, the body's natural defense mechanism. Even more important, a good belly laugh can provide a cathartic release of emotional tension. Who doesn't feel better after that?

Humor can also give us a new perspective on a situation, and that frequently leads to a feeling of greater control. When all seems darkest, try a shift in your perception:

  • Laugh at yourself. Acknowledge your imperfections, and see if your shortcomings can amuse, rather than infuriate or upset you.
  • Laughter loves company. Research shows you are 30 times more likely to laugh with others than alone. So call up your friends or family, and invite them over for Joke Fest-whichever joke gets the most groans, wins a prize.
  • Study your humor. Get to know what makes you chuckle-is it the comics? Playing with a pet? Start a video library with all your favorite comedies.
  • Practice, practice, practice. A sense of humor is like a muscle-the more you flex it, the stronger it gets. Make it a habit to laugh every day, and you may find that it becomes second nature to grin when things seem grimmest.

We can be our own medicine!

Program Description
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Sister Alice Williams
Stella Resnick, Ph.D.
Help YourSelf
Tell Me More

Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.

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