We’ve all heard it: “Laughter is the best medicine.” And I tend to agree with that for the most part. I mean, after surgery, I prefer something a little stronger and, honestly, laughing right after surgery kind of hurts! 

Actually, the saying “laughter is the best medicine” originated from Proverbs 17:22.  The proverb says “A joyful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Laughter is a physical expression of joy (A joyful heart. Some Bible versions say a cheerful heart). 

It is true — laughter is strong medicine. Research shows that laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts your mood, diminishes pain and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. (And we sure are exposed to stress in our job… CMS minimum staffing anyone!?) 

Humor and happiness trigger healthy physical and emotional responses in the body. Humor is also helpful for healthy aging. Did you know that studies indicate that happier people are less likely to develop tau tangles and amyloid plaques that lead to Alzheimer’s disease?  As I age, I’d much rather pee my pants laughing than forget who everyone is. 

Did you know that there is something called “laughter yoga?” Laughter yoga is a modern-day technique developed in India that has the participants mimic the act of laughing with the goal of achieving positive psychological outcomes. The results have shown significant improvements in attaining positive emotions and reducing the severity of stress symptoms and anxiety as well as improving quality of sleep. 

My daughter had sent me a link to an Instagram for Dachshund yoga (Muskoka puppy yoga) that, honestly, if you don’t laugh watching that, your funny bone is broken. Sign me up for that one and I’ll definitely be doing laughter yoga! 

An article in Psychiatric Times showed that in group settings, laughter strengthens interpersonal relationships, promotes group bonding, facilitates teamwork and cooperation, and defuses conflict. So, you leaders out there who take time to joke around with your staff and create fun group activities for employees may have a really strong team and less turnover. 

Wow, laughter may decrease turnover. Let’s try it!

So, yeah, I do think laughter is the best medicine. (But I still won’t turn down that pain pill after disc surgery.) Just saying!

And just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC, and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, a 2024 McKnight’s VIP Woman of Distinction award winner, and an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.

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