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This site is for student nurses or nurses starting out. Letters to a Young Nurse are blog posts written like letters to help you find your way and make your journey as a nurse less difficult. 

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Laughter

Updated: Aug 4, 2023


The Greater Good Magazine from the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center has so many resources to help you and your patients (and family) live a happier, more fulfilled life. I am a huge fan of their Happiness Calendar. Today the subject was on Laughter. Jill Suttie, Psy.D. says:

"One recent review of several well-run studies found that laughter helps people improve their mood, well-being, and quality of life, while reducing their anxiety, depression, stress, pain, and fatigue. Laughter, when shared, can also bring people closer together and defuse tension in relationships. And, as any student can tell you, it’s probably easier to pay attention and retain information in the classroom if a teacher infuses lessons with humor."


I always tried to infuse my PowerPoint presentations in Pharmacology with humorous quotes or funny memes or cartoons like the one above which comes from http://www.nurstoon.com/wp-content/uploads/2003/02/67_new_scrubs.gif


If we cannot laugh with each other, we cannot connect with one another. Jill goes on to say, "Two recent reviews of research found that laughter decreases anxiety and can also reduce depression and improve sleep. In fact, even the anticipation of laughter may reduce stress hormones, suggesting that it’s a good idea to infuse more of it into your life."


Laughter Yoga is a great way to build laughter into your day. It has been proven to reduce stress, burnout and stress in nurses during the pandemic. There are a thousand videos on YouTube illustrating how to perform Laughter Yoga. The reason it works is the message you give your body when you laugh is to be healthy. When we are laughing, we are happy and relaxed. The interesting thing about laughter is we don't learn how to laugh; we just naturally start laughing at 2-4 months of age. BUT we do learn how not to laugh. As we grow older, we learn to suppress our emotions, we become self-conscious, and we get stressed. Then it progresses to feeling tense and nervous and we lose our laughter. We spend more time not laughing, or laughing at the expense of another person, or we shut down completely.


Did you know that stress is the number one killer today while depression has become the number one sickness? More than 70-80% of illnesses are stress related. So how does laughter change the stress in our bodies to positive energy? Clinical research conducted in India and in the United States has proven that laughter lowers the level of stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol. It has also been shown to bring about measurable physiological changes like increasing oxygen levels in the blood, increasing muscle relaxation, increasing blood circulation, and stress hormones are lowered. PET scans of the brain done while a patient is laughing shows creative centers of the brain light up much more when there is laughter. Laughter yoga helps to change your mood within minutes by releasing chemicals from your brain such as endorphins and serotonin that you need to keep you in a good mood throughout the day. Laughter yoga is like an aerobic exercise which brings more oxygen to the body and brain thereby making you feel healthier and more energetic. Positivity, through laughter, has been shown to strengthen the immune system and protect it from stress related illnesses.


Laughter Yoga can be done by persons and patients of any age. It can be done standing or sitting and doesn't require any equipment. It can be done for a few minutes or longer. Laughter Yoga clubs have been started all over the world. Dr. Madan Kataria is the founder of Laughter Yoga Clubs Movement. You can find resources and videos at www.laughteryoga.org

Here is one of his videos showing a corporate event in India where Dr. Kataria led the group in Laughter Yoga.



Dr. Kataria says, "the greatest benefit of Laughter Yoga is when you feel happier and joyful you want more of it and the surging endorphins will make you a better version of yourself".


We all have the ability to change the world one laugh at a time.

When is the last time you had a good laugh that made you or your patient feel better?

Tell me about it.


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