“Laughter is the greatest weapon we have and we, as humans, use it the least.” — Mark Twain
COVID-19’s increased threat has many people tense, depressed and even tired of their newly adjusted home-bound and lacklustre lifestyle.
Is this your lot? Why not inject some laughter — the best medicine — into your life? In correct dosage, it has a tendency to relax, lessen tension and lift spirits.
Laughter fights negative emotions
Anger, fear, rage, and anxiety can consume us amid grave uncertainty about the new coronavirus. These emotions or stressors are known to cause or exacerbate ailments such as asthma, skin diseases, ulcers, and digestive woes that compromise the immune system.
Laughter, on the contrary, creates a relaxed and jovial frame of mind that fights harmful emotions on which COVID-19 feeds. Laughter is good, but endeavouring to keep a cheerful disposition is even better.
Laughter’s exercise and diseases
With no hollow spaces in the abdomen, the up-and-down movement of the diaphragm when laughing provides internal organs, such as the heart and liver, good exercise. When the heart and liver receive this massage, each, respectively, aids circulation and facilitates easier waste discharge from the body.
Laughter, therefore, keeps the body healthier and aids in warding off diseases — two critical things in these uncertain times.
Laughter in memes and song
When the chikungunya virus hit Jamaica, amid the pain came much good-natured humour through songs and memes. These acted as coping mechanisms for local people, much as they do now during the COVID-19 crisis. Skim through memes that evoke sadness and such emotions, and linger on the ones that lift your spirit just like song.
Laughter at home in games and on screen
For some people, staying at home results in lesser time. Adjusting is never easy. So, make every effort to make time to laugh. Cards, dominoes, ludo, and other board games are good for laughter and family bonding.
By yourself or with others, watch YouTube funny videos, cartoons, comedies or onstage comedians. Watching people’s diverse talents, or lack thereof, can spark much laughter on the Internet or the TV in shows such as America’s Got Talent and The X-Factor, and our local Digicel Rising Stars.
Smile more when emotions flare
Being at home may often cause ‘teeth and tongue’ to meet. Resolve to smile more when emotions flare.
Try it, just see what difference it makes when you ‘screw’ your face (or knit your eyebrows) as opposed to when you smile. You are much calmer in the latter than the former.
Be happy, not slap-happy
Sadly, much careless behaviour is still dominating certain pockets of our little island in the name of laughter and having a good time. These are surely misguided and threaten to derail the efforts of Government and those with a serious resolve to defeat the virus.
Even laughter has its time, and clearly such wanton merriment in these spheres is surely no time for laughs. So, even good things, done out of turn, can be bad.
Laughter not cachinnation
Laughter, too, can be excessive.
States the Illustrated Medical and Health Encyclopedia: “Laughter is, then, like every other function of the body, a mechanism that should be used enough but never too much. Over-exercise or overuse of any function of the human body is not conducive to its best development.”
Thoughtless or uncontrolled laughter, as in cachinnation, can grate on the ears of others, discouraging rather than encouraging. Be mindful, then, of others in the process.
Above all, try maintaining a joyful disposition, one not easily overcome by negative emotions. Fear weakens our resolve, laughter strengthens it. Inject some good laughter in your life, even if you must, at first, fake it, before you can feel it.
Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 22 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
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