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Laughter: The best medicine

November 19, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center Publicist , Salem News

"Do you remember?"

Many get-togethers erupt into a stream of memories that elicit laughter, often hearty belly laughs that bring tears to our eyes and hurt our mid-sections because we laugh so hard. When did your family and/or friends last gather together for a fun day? As we approach the end of the year holidays there will be a lot of opportunity for such gatherings.

End of year festivals date to ancient times. Although the new year has been celebrated at various times depending on culture, the concepts are a celebration of life. Anglo-Saxon England's new year was observed on Dec. 25 until William the Conqueror changed it to Jan. 1. Later, Christendom observed New Year on March 25. But the Gregorian calendar set New Year's Day on Jan. 1.

Whenever you celebrate your new year, it usually involves regrets from the past year and hope for a better year ahead. Although brightly wrapped gifts with red velvet bows can be a lot of fun, there are other gifts that cannot be bought in a store, but can have a great deal more effect than the presents under a tree.

Do you remember what you found under the Christmas tree last year? What is the most valuable, precious gift you have ever received? The gift that ever meant the most to you? Was it tangible-something you could hold? Or something else?

You can't wrap some things in a box, such as love and laughter, but they can be priceless gifts. Some folks favor Thanksgiving, a day everyone can gather in the spirit of thanks for your blessings without gift-giving. It's a time to reminisce about family memories that often invite laughter to the gathering. Questions begin. "Do you remember?"

"Do you remember when Betty walked out of the public bathroom with the end of the toilet paper roll tucked into the waistband of her pants?"

"Remember when I rode the sled down over the hill at Tammy's house and I thought it would stop at the bottom but it kept goingright into the street in front of a highway patrol car?"

"We need to go back to Hocking Hills!"

So many good times to remember.

Laughter. It is the best medicine. Know!, a program of the Drug Free Action Alliance (DFAA) offers a Top Ten list of reasons why everyone should laugh more.

1.Stress busting. What happens when you are agitated and someone says something funny? Actually, a heart belly laugh physically reduces stress hormones. (Did you know you have 'stress hormones'?)

2.Improves circulation. After laughing blood vessels expand and contract more easily.

3.Internal workout. One minute of laughing out loud equals 10 minutes on a rowing machineand sounds like a lot more fun!

4.Strengthens immune system. Your body's natural defenses work for you when you laugh.

5.Reduces pain. The endorphins that are released when we laugh distract our attention away from our pain resulting in feeling better.

6.Diminishes aggression. That annoying neighbor works overtime to aggravate you because he knows he will succeed. But when you laugh instead, he doesn't get the desired reaction and maybe he will laugh, too.

7.Perspective changer. Laughter makes us feel more optimistic.

8.Social booster.

9.Magnetic appeal. These two go hand in glove. People like to be around people who laugh, are happy and see the funny side of life, who can shake off the serious stuff for a while. Connecting and building relationships results in unity instead of brooding alone.

10.Laughter is contagious. Catch it and pass it on.

Laughter won't fix everything. It won't solve all of your problems, but it will give you a much-needed break from them and when you have to go back and deal with them, you might discover some options you hadn't considered before. So, laugh often. Teach your children to laugh, enjoy life and feel good.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment of substance abuse and other mental health issues. For more information, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail,



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