I want you to enjoy laughter for your mental health. So let me try this joke on you.
Why don't pirates take a shower before they walk the plank?
They just wash up on shore.
I appropriated that joke from a Reader's Digest website, The 100 Funniest Jokes from the Last 100 Years. I encourage you to visit the site because even if you don't find this joke funny, one of the other 99 will give you a laugh. And laughing may be one of the most important things you can do today.
I know when we feel terrible, the last thing we want to do is muster up the energy to laugh. When I'm in the throws of my depression, feeling anything that would lead to a giggle is seldom. But that doesn't mean we can't practice finding ways to make ourselves laugh...because it's true....
Laughter Is Medicine
Norman Cousins, the legendary editor of Saturday Review, survived a mysterious autoimmune illness in the 1960s. He did it with a regime of belly laughs — from watching Marx Brothers movies and episodes of the television show Candid Camera — and massive doses of Vitamin C.
He described his recovery in Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient, which is still in print and is an engaging read. His insight revolutionized our culture's understanding of medicine, the body's resources for fighting illness, and the health-giving properties of laughter. Yes, laughter.
The Cousins story shows that laughter can change the course of physical illness. And there is ample evidence it can affect mental health as well. A 2016 review article in the Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, for example, noted that laughter reverses the stress response. Furthermore, it can correct the neurotransmitter deficiencies associated with depression. The article recommended laughter as a noninvasive, non-pharmacological alternative treatment for stress and depression.
Laughter for Mental Health
The Mayo Clinic offers a web page on laughter. It says in the short term, in addition to relieving the stress response, a good laugh stimulates many of your organs by increasing your oxygen intake. It also increases the release of endorphins. It stimulates circulation and relaxes muscles.
The long-term benefits are less obvious. Regular laughter can strengthen your immune system, relieve pain, improve your mood, and even enhance your self-esteem. Laughing a lot makes you better able to handle difficult situations. It even helps you connect with other people, especially if you laugh with them.
This is all what led me to create my first funny design. My husband and I were laughing at how I blame video games for my anxiety- not really, in a funny way (remember, we're laughing!). I played for hours as a kid. My parent's owned a restaurant with a game room and a sit-down Pac-Man. Well, check out the sweatshirt, you'll get it, I'm sure!
Suggestions for you: for the sake of your mental health (and physical health, too), let yourself laugh. Just let it happen. Open up to it, let it roll, and enjoy the afterglow. The resources for laughter are abundant and often free. I spent a half hour doing searches on youtube.com and found scenes, sketches, and full episodes of The Carol Burnett Show, Dean Martin's Roast, and Laugh-In. And if you've never seen the Phil Silvers Show (Sgt. Bilko) or The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, I envy you the opportunity to discover them and laugh yourself silly.
I know "they're so old," but there's a reason why shows like I Love Lucy and The Jeffersons are still on years after the show aired (and ended). Comedy gold is comedy gold (no pun intended, Sophia, Blanche, & Dorothy!).
I do have my current shows, too. I believe it's important to be well-rounded with all forms of entertainment but let's face it, your sense of humor may differ from mine. So, I say look around and find what makes you laugh so hard your do unintentional ab crunches and your eyelids flip over (that really happens to me!)
On some streaming services, I found classics for free, including News Radio, The Kids in the Hall, Barney Miller, and Night Court. Obviously YouTube has endless hours of whatever you want. My issue with that is getting lost in everything shiny on the sides; which is why they're there.
So, if you need a good laugh but don't want to get distracted from the purity of humor, dust off the DVD player shut everything else down and giggle. Find something that gives you genuine belly laughs for the best health effects. If it makes you laugh until you cry, you're really on to something.
This past Spring I was lucky enough to catch the live show, "Funny Women of A Certain Age" featuring Carole Montgomery, Vanessa Hollingshead, Leighann Lord, and Julia Scotti. I walked in with a heavy heart from life stuff but in no time I was laughing so hard that I could not get any sound out. It was that freaking good.
Here's my favorite photo from the night-and YES that's THE Julia Scotti!
If you can catch this show as it tours, I highly recommend it! Their website HERE.
I'll leave you with another of the 100 Funniest Jokes. This one is from the brilliant Steve Martin.
"First, the doctor told me the good news. He said that I was going to have a disease named after me."
I hope it made you laugh. But if it didn't, please find something that does. It will mean a lot to your mental health.