By Don “Doc” Sanders
There are plenty of benefits of laughing. A good guffaw:
- Lowers blood pressure and stroke risk
- Reduces stress hormone levels
- Works abs, as I described earlier
- Improves cardiac health. Laughter provides a great cardio workout.
- Boosts T-cells, which are specialized immune system cells that fight off illness
- Triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers, making you feel good
- Produces a general sense of well-being.
Laughter also comes in handy as home therapy for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a condition where an individual becomes moody and depressed in the winter when daylight becomes a scarce commodity.
I know of individuals that have SAD every year. The symptoms include feeling depressed nearly every day, losing interest in the activities that normally bring you joy, being unmotivated and being unable to concentrate. It can become extreme with a feeling of hopelessness, and maybe guilt. Some individuals with SAD border on being suicidal.
Rather than focusing on how depressing wintertime can be, let’s refocus on what we can do to make our lives better. I’ll leave you with an analogy about life I often shared with my Ohio State vet students. I would sketch a three-legged stool. One leg of the stool, I said, represents our vocation or profession. The second leg of the stool represents our personal well-being, friends and family. The third leg of the stool represents our spiritual life. I would tell my students that if you are giving one of these legs of your life short shrift, your stool will be off balance. It is important to continually be aware of your life’s balance — your career, your personal relationships and your spiritual life.
Life got you down? Certainly, get professional counseling if you ‘re feeling depressed. Plus, continually work on maintaining balance in your life. And take time to enjoy the healing quality of laughter.