The process of consistently dealing with pain can cause one to lose your sense of humor and put you in a pretty dark place. At some point I took a personal inventory of how much fun and laughter was in my life. I looked at what I was reading. I looked at what I was watching on television. I looked at who I was spending my time with and what I spent my time doing. I realized that I wasn't capitalizing on fun and laughter like I should. The books I read were about migraines. I was watching horrific news stories and crime dramas on television. My conversations with friends would inevitably turn into discussions about my health simply because they were kind enough to ask about it. A lot of my down time was spent dwelling on how to cure my migraines, figuring out how to work and cope with migraines, how to manage children while in the midst of a migraine, etc. I had quit playing tennis and doing activities I loved because of migraines.
I think in life you become what your surround yourself with and what you do. Fortunately, we get to choose these things. I made a deliberate choice to have more fun and change what I was reading, watching on TV, doing and talking about. I tried to bring laughter back into my life.
My crazy little laughter plan has some scientific research to back it:
A study conducted at the University of Oxford proved that laughter can increase pain thresholds. The benefits are not just emotional. They believe the physical act of laughing exhausts the abdominal muscles causing a release of endorphins which lessens painful experiences. So, I guess for more benefit, laugh louder and longer?
According to The Mayo Clinic the benefits of laughter are both short term and long term:
1. Stimulation of heart, lungs and muscles by oxygen-rich air while laughing increases endorphins in the brain.
2. Feelings of relaxation caused by the activation and release of the stress response.
3. Stress symptom relief caused by an increase circulation and muscle relaxation.
4. Boosting the immune system with neuropeptides released to fight stress and illness.
5. Natural painkillers released to break the pain-spasm cycle in common muscle disorders.
6. Increasing coping skills and building connections with other people.
Generally laughing and doing fun things makes me feel better. I don't really need scientist and the Mayo Clinic to convince me to do more fun things. However, I think our thoughts and behaviors are a reflection of how we feel. When we don't feel good we can create a habit of negative thoughts and feelings. So, in the spirit of April Fools Day, I recommend we all have a little more fun and laughter. Happy April Fools Day!