Extension Unit News
Family and Community
Humor is Beneficial in Our Lives
I very recently presented a program in the Urbana area on humor, and how important it is to incorporate humor and laughter into our everyday lives. For many years now, Family Life Educators with the U of I Extension, have been promoting this message and have also tried to help people discover ways to include more laughter in their lives. Adults seem to have a harder time with this concept, since they only laugh an average of about 15 times a day, as compared to a 4-year old who laughs about once every four minutes!
So, why is humor and laughter so important to us? You may remember "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" from the book of Proverbs. There are actually many physical benefits of humor which include:
· Reduction of muscle tension which helps alleviate pain
· Stimulation of cardiovascular system
· Dilation of blood vessels which increases oxygen to the lungs
· Reduction of blood pressure and heart rate
· Improvement of t-cells and natural killer cells in immune system
· Production of beta endorphins to induce euphoria
Humor is not only good for you physically but also mentally. The psychological benefits of humor include:
· Relief of anxiety, distress, anger and depression
· Creation of feelings of well-being, empowerment and control
· Assistance in creating and maintaining a positive attitude, hope, energy and self-esteem
Humor can also act as a coping mechanism that can help relieve hostility and anger. It can also help us to put situations into perspective. Sometimes we exaggerate a situation and make things seem worse than they really are. Humor allows us to detach ourselves and take a fresh look at something, and be more realistic about it.
So, do you have a sense of humor? What kinds of things do you find funny? What is funny to some people may not be funny to others. There is no right or wrong as to what is funny – it is a personal reaction. Whatever it is that tickles your funny bone, make sure that you actively seek it out, by watching funny shows, reading comics, jokes, or greeting cards, or listening to comedians. You may want to keep a humor journal where you write down things that have made you laugh: bumper stickers, headlines, amusing remarks or errors, and clever puns. Be able to laugh at yourself. Recognize that until you can laugh at your own mistakes and shortcomings, your self-esteem will not allow you to have much of a sense of humor. Also, try to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself and are pleasant to be with – those who make you laugh.
Remember that laughter is good for you, and that it is cheap, effective and its side effects are pleasant. It is also fat-free, salt-free, non-taxable, environmentally safe, renewable, and does not require batteries or assembly!
Cheri Burcham, Extension Educator, Family Life, Coles/Cumberland/Douglas/Moultrie/Shelby Unit