Laughter therapy for chronic pain

Laughter therapy for chronic pain

While chronic pain is no laughing matter, research suggests that laughter can help to ease your suffering if you are living with a chronic pain condition.

Laughter therapy research

According to a study that was presented at a meeting of the European pain Federation Congress, humor was observed to ease suffering for those afflicted by chronic pain conditions. Researchers observed that laughter was not only able to help patients experience better quality of life, but also to increase pain tolerance.

Scientists had chronic pain patients watch funny movies with their hands held in ice water. The pain sufferers who laughed at the funny movie were able to tolerate the ice water for longer periods of time than the other study participants who were not amused by the funny movie.

Additionally, the positive effects of this heightened pain tolerance lasted for 20 more minutes after the laughter had ended. Scientists believe that this is a result of humor’s biological influence on the human body.

Laughter and endorphin release

The neurological explanation for this rest with the role that endorphins play in the brain and throughout the nervous system. Endorphins are known as natural painkillers that coordinate with the human brain’s opiate receptors. Laughter enables the body to release these endorphins and enable chronic pain patients to experience some alleviation of their pain symptoms.

One Oxford psychologist believes that the actual muscular movement of laughter itself to generate the “Ha, Ha, Ha” exclamations are the triggers for the release of endorphins.

Interestingly, faking laughter has not proved to help the pain symptoms of chronic pain patients. A Journal of Aging research study found that elderly patients who participated in a humor therapy program indicated lower levels of pain as well as increases in happiness and overall life satisfaction.

These elderly patients also demonstrated decreased levels of loneliness. This makes sense as laughter, from an evolutionary point of view, has been demonstrated to help in group bonding, which is a evident solution to the problem of loneliness.

Researchers hypothesize that laughter in combination with a general good sense of humor, positive life perspective, as well as the support of friends and family are generally means of living a healthier life.

Laughter therapy exercises

Benefits of laughter therapy:

  • enhanced immune system response,
  • increased oxygen intake,
  • healthful heart and lung stimulation,
  • muscle relaxation,
  • endorphin release,
  • balanced blood pressure,
  • pain relief,
  • mental clarity and alertness,
  • improved sleep quality,
  • decreased stress and tension,
  • strengthened social bonds,
  • and an overall sense of well-being

How can you incorporate more laughter into your life?

Watch funny videos

Do you have a favorite comedian or television show? Perhaps you can find some great YouTube clips that consistently make you laugh and make sure that you incorporate them into your daily life. If you have a mobile device, you can even download some media right onto your phone so that you always have a laughter resource on hand should you feel the need to destress.

Try laughing yoga

A form of yoga called hasya yoga intends to help its followers to laugh robustly, helping them to trigger that vital endorphin release that has proven to help manage pain symptoms.

People suffering from fibromyalgia, arthritis, lupus and many other chronic pain conditions have resorted to this style of yoga to help reduce and eliminate their experience of pain.

Perhaps there is a local class that you could join, or if there is and you can even for one a Meetup group and begin to practice with other like-minded individuals.

Check out a local comedy club

Many areas of the country have comedy clubs that feature rising talents. Try hitting the town with some of your friends and seeing if any of the comedians can tickle your funny bone.

Ask your friends for recommendations

What makes them laugh?

Try emailing a bunch of your friends and ask them for recommendations of things that they find funny. This can become an incredibly amusing endeavor as you and your friends maintain an email chain of funny videos and other humorous items that will surely keep you stocked with humorous content.

Final thoughts

Laughter is nature’s gift and a natural medicine. It has the potential to lift our spirits and empower us to feel happy. It is a contagious emotion that binds groups and individuals together, making us feel more alive and present.

As we have seen, there are also research studies that demonstrate the scientific validity of humor as an effective intervention for chronic pain conditions as well as supporting the general health of the human psyche .