Everyone recognizes the inescapable fact that mental health is just as important as physical health, but how much time do you commit to each? For myself, I know that I am careful to allot time for keeping my physical body active with yoga, dance classes, and rehearsals, but I often find myself neglecting to set aside time for activities to improve my mental heath. Sometimes I struggle to find a balance. Today I ask myself, what can I do to prioritize my overall health?
After considering this question and researching different theories and practices, I came across an article about the health benefits of laughter, and then it all made sense! Laughter is the best medicine, for EVERYTHING. Mental, physical, and social benefits ensue from a good dose of the Patch Adams Method.
Some of the most fundamental social benefits include; -Promoting group bonding -Strengthening relationships -Attracting others to us -Enhancing teamwork -Diffusing conflict
(Surprising!) Physical Benefits of Laughter; -A boost of Immunity -A decrease in stress hormones -A decrease in pain -Relaxed muscles -Prevention of heart disease
Mental Health Benefits; -Adds Joy and zest to life -Eases anxiety and fear -Relieves Stress -Improves mood -Enhances resilience
Helpguide.org outlines some of the most basic but important benefits from laughing. This includes how it relaxes the whole body, boosts the immune system, triggers the release of endorphins, and ultimately protects your heart (physically and emotionally).
If we approach tough situations with a perspective that allows room for a light heart and some humor, we not only benefit mentally but physically as well!
If you’re caught in a bind, Helpguide.org also provides a list of some creative opportunities to laugh-
-Watch a funny movie or TV show -Go to a comedy club -Read the funny pages -Seek out funny people -Share a good joke or funny story -Check out your bookstore’s humor section -Host game night with your friends -Play with a pet -Go to a “laughter yoga” class -Goof around with children -Do something silly -Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke)
Most importantly, find humor in yourself and find the ability to laugh and smile at yourself. If you approach your relationship with yourself with a light heart, you will find it helps your approach with others and hard situations.
By Shelby Terrell