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Dave Balch: What's so Funny?

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If you are struggling with a medical issue here’s one way to deal with it: laugh.

LAUGH?? Do you think Dave’s off his rocker?? Wait; it gets better… if you can’t laugh out loud then laugh on the inside; that works too! Uh-huh.

Really. Laughing is serious business.

Numerous studies have shown that you not only FEEL better when you laugh, but you GET better when you laugh. Let’s take those one at a time.
When you laugh, nothing changes, but you feel better. Think about it: isn’t that the ultimate objective?

My wife and I were walking into the hospital at 5:00am on the day of her big mastectomy/reconstruction surgery. We knew she was going to be on the table for six hours and in the hospital for four days and, let’s face it, we were both nervous (who wouldn’t be?).

Suddenly she stopped and said, “Oh, NO!”

I reacted, “WHAT? WHAT??”

She said, “I forgot to bring my boob!”

Oh, jeez… I responded, “What do you mean? I’m right here!”

..and we both laughed. Nothing changed, she still went in and had her surgery (which came out fine, by the way), but we both felt better. And that’s the point.

You also GET better because the physical act of laughing releases endorphins into your blood stream that promote physical healing. And here’s a bonus: you get most of the benefits even if you don’t laugh out loud.

Okay, so now we know why it’s important to laugh, but how do we do that when we are feeling punk, or scared, or overwhelmed? Illness isn’t funny, but there is plenty of humor in some of the situations in which we find ourselves because of the illness; that’s where you need to focus your attention. Some people are naturally funny (like my wife) and can find things to laugh about that are related to the circumstances. If you’re not a funny person (and there’s no shame in that) find funny movies, TV shows, humorous authors… whatever amuses you, go out of your way to find it.

It’s something you can do for yourself, on purpose, that will help you feel better and get better.


This article is one in a series on coping strategies for patients and caregivers alike.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.