The healing power of laughter

We all know the adage “laughter is the best medicine.” In situations of illness, injury and emotional hurts, carefully applied humor can help manage the stress and start the psyche at least on a healing path. It’s a simple and complex topic all at once, obvious and subtle. And when trying to help your kids develop appropriate senses of humor, this is a key point you want to make and reiterate — and use.


Remember when you broke your toe? Oh how it hurt! Almost too much to bear for such a little bone! But in those first moments, you totally poked fun at yourself and your clumsy ways. In that humor, you eased the concern and fear you saw in your daughter’s face, were able to calm the panic you saw in your son and your laughter distracted your own nervous system from shooting pain.

You knew — almost instinctively — that laughing would help calm and clear the air so you could think of your next step. Or non-step, as the case turned out. And now that your toe is healed, it’s a great example to your kids of how to use humor and laughter to get through a tough situation — and how it helped you start to heal.

Good science

The idea that laughter is good medicine isn’t just an old wives tail. Scientific studies have shown that laughter helps us tolerate physical discomfort and pain, it can help reduce blood sugar levels, strengthen the immune system, boost energy, and cardiologists now suggest that laughing can help increase blood flow in arteries.

Those old wives — and moms — knew their stuff.

Good crisis management

As moms, we know that lightening the mood can help us manage tough situations within the family. Whether it’s classic sibling rivalry or some other circumstance, laughter relaxes the body and helps refocus the mind — and gives everyone that bit of time to regroup. Having a sense of humor is more than having a sense of humor for its own sake, it’s a coping skill, and an essential one to help the kids learn.

Choose wisely

All that said, when using laughter in a tough situation, whether trying to lighten a mood or start to help heal your child’s body and mind, consider the subject matter of that humor carefully. It may not yet be time to joke about the actual situation! Try using humor on a completely different topic, or telling an old standby joke, or noting how ridiculous some completely different thing is. Start the laughter off slowly and carefully — and if it’s working you can go a little farther.

Laughter definitely is good medicine for many situations. Understanding how to use it and apply it with your kids not only can help start the healing, but is key “lead by example” activity that will help your kids develop their own senses of humor.

More about laughter

Health benefits of laughter yoga
Laughter: A parent’s best defense?
4 Fun ways to lower anxiety

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