Laughter is the Best Medicine
Medical Director Dr. Steve Swain shares his thoughts on the importance of laughter and joy as medicine. Those of you who know (and love him) maybe you can hear the laughter in the clinic when he and Dr. V. started the dancing.
On medical mission trips to Haiti, DR and Africa, there is often a language barrier that prevents me, and others on our teams that don’t speak French, Spanish and Creole, from communicating with the native people. Unless you speak their language, communication can be difficult, even with a good interpreter. I have found though that there is a universal language that always works, and that’s laughter. Getting people to laugh, brings a smile to patients’ faces and relaxes most. Whether it’s making a funny face, teaching the Hokey-Pokey, using funny apps on my smartphone or hiding a fake spider (la araña), I’ve found some good light-hearted fun enables us all to relax a little and a bond begins to form. You can feel joy entering the room. Once a few of us start to laugh it becomes contagious and spreads across the room like wildfire. Even though we can’t speak to one another, it’s laughter that brings us together. It’s such a beautiful thing to watch and experience first-hand. Laughter opens doors for communication with people you may not have been able to communicate with.
Laughter has been shown to relieve pain, improve depression and anxiety, improve your immune system, decrease stress and increase resilience. There are studies that state a good laugh can relax the body for up to 45 minutes.
Remember the last time you had one of those amazing belly laugh moments? Didn’t you feel great after that? My prescription to everyone is to smile and laugh!!! Do it often. But remember, laugh with people, not at people. Proverbs 17:22 states “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”