Laughter Can Be Your Best Medicine

Sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine. And when you have psoriatic arthritis, easing pain and relieving stress is always welcome.

Just fake it

In August 2015, I attended “How to Dance in the Rain: Rx for Mind, Body, and Spirit,” an autoimmune conference hosted by the Scleroderma Foundation-Michigan Chapter. One of the conference speakers, Dr. Ashraf Sadeghi-Girgis, naturopathic medicine specialist and a certified stress management therapist from Grand Rapids, Mich., really caught my attention.

She began her “Fake It Well” presentation by having the audience stand and fake a few deep belly laughs. The audience, including me, felt very silly, but our fake belly laughs soon turned into real laughter.

Dr. Sadeghi-Girgis said laughter therapy has all kinds of good health benefits for those with chronic illness, including:

  • Reduces stress hormones;
  • Improves circulation;
  • Exercises muscles;
  • Helps to alleviate depression and anxiety; and
  • Decreases pain intensity.

She explained that deep belly laughs are the ones that make a real difference, but if you can’t bring out those authentic, big laughs, then don’t give up. She said that even though our minds can tell the difference between a real and fake laughter, our bodies can’t. Even if your fake laughs don’t turn into real laughter, you’re still reaping the benefits.

Long-term benefits of laughter

The Mayo Clinic agrees that laughter has some great benefits. “Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke” explains how laughter can also have these long-term effects:

  • Improving your immune system because positive thoughts can release a group of compounds that act as neurotransmitters to help fight stress and possibly more serious illnesses;
  • Relieving pain by allowing your body to produce its own natural painkillers;
  • Increasing your ability to cope in difficult situations; and
  • Improving your mood by helping with depression and anxiety.

Bring humor into your life

With psoriatic arthritis, we look for ways to take control, especially when we feel we have none. Faking laughter is one great way to trick our bodies into feeling better without added medicine.

Here are some tips to get you laughing:

  • Find a group or account on social media that is dedicated to your type of humor. Memes, puns and jokes are at your fingertips. You can even find a group that features health humor.
  • Keep a few funny movies on hand that you can go to for a quick laugh. I recommend ones that you’ve seen often and can recite lines by heart. That way, you can become part of the movie and immerse yourself even more.
  • Keep a joke book on your nightstand.
  • Go see a comedy show and support your local comics. If you can’t get out, then watch your favorite comedian on YouTube or TV.
  • Turn the radio dial to a comedy station.
  • Meet in person or on the phone with friends or family to reminisce some funny stories from your childhood. Just be sure to not laugh at someone else’s expense.
  • Hang out with kids. They really do say the darndest things.
  • Get a mirror, stick your tongue out, and watch yourself make funny faces.

And if you still can’t crack a smile, then just do what Dr. Sadeghi-Girgis recommends: Fake it until you make it.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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