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Foundations of Healing – Joy and Laughter

Inspire Health Event Calendar September 30, 2011

We bring you the fourth installment of ‘The 16 Foundations of Health and Healing’. Over the following months, we will be exploring each of these 16 components in more detail, one at a time. These foundations are the pillar of InspireHealth and they will provide you with valuable information and tools that you can start applying immediately in your day to day life. What makes sense when you are living with a diagnosis of cancer also makes sense to help prevent it, so whether you have had cancer or not, this information provides essential ingredients to living healthy, joyous, and passionate lives.

Connect with Your Joy for Life and Laughter

When we connect with what is most deeply meaningful to ourselves and our spirit, we connect with our joy for life and laughter. In doing so, burdens lift and we reconnect with the simple happiness of life. Joy and laughter can be healing – they remind us that no matter what we are going through, at our deepest level there is a part of us that is always free and joyful. This is especially important during challenging times – joy and laughter lighten burdens and connects us with others.

Science is beginning to reveal how important joy and laughter are in supporting our health. Mirthful laughter significantly enhances many important aspects of immune system function, including increasing natural killer cell activity, immunoglobulin production, helper T cells and cytokines1. Humour and laughter have been demonstrated to lessen anxiety and pain, reduce production of stress hormones and stress, and increase well-being in patients with cancer2.

Laughter and humour not only increase our immune function and well-being, there is evidence that it may have a substantial impact on survival as well. Researchers interviewed 66,140 residents of a small city in Norway and assessed their sense of humour. They then followed these study participants for seven years. They found that those who scored in the top quarter for humour appreciation were 35% less likely to die during the seven years of study3. For the 2,015 residents who had cancer, those who scored in the top quarter were 70% less likely to die during the study period. The researchers reviewed the diagnostic records and confirmed that this survival benefit was independent of cancer stage/type.

Laugher is healing. Joy and laughter are important, even – perhaps especially – in the context of serious life challenges like a diagnosis of cancer.

Laughter Yoga, offered at InspireHealth, is one way to connect with joy and laughter. Our body’s physiology responds to laughter and supports health, well-being and healing.

Rent a funny movie, attend a Laughter Yoga class, tell a joke, smile to a friend. Embrace joy and laughter.

Stay tuned for the next installment in our Foundation of Health and Healing series: Personal Autonomy.

‘The Foundations of Health and Healing’

All aspects of supporting mind, body, spirit and immune system (e.g., exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, etc.) are interrelated and each contributes to the benefit provided by the others in a synergistic way.  By engaging in the many ways we can support mind, body and spirit, we create solid foundations for health and recovery and optimize our body’s healing potential.  An optimal integrative cancer care program incorporates all of these important foundations, built one upon the other, foundation upon foundation, as illustrated in the following diagram ‘The Foundations of Health and Healing’.

1Berk LS, Felten DL, Tan SA, et al. Modulation of neuroimmune parameters during the eustress of humor associated mirthful laughter. Altern Ther Health Med 2001;7(2):62-67.

2Christie W, Moore C. The impact of humor on patients with cancer. J Clin Oncol Nurs 2005;9(2):211-18.

3Svebak S. Sense of humor and mortality: a seven-year prospective study of an unselected adult county population and a sub-population diagnosed with cancer. The Hunt Study. American Psychosomatic Society 65th Annual Meeting, March 7-10, 2007.