Ag­ing well with laugh­ter as a tool

Sackville Tribune - - OPINION - Pa­tri­cia Har­ring­ton Ag­ing Well Pa­tri­cia Har­ring­ton is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at West­ford Nurs­ing Home in Port El­gin. She be­lieves it is im­por­tant to share in­for­ma­tion on ev­ery­day con­cerns as we age and en­joys pro­mot­ing th­ese im­por­tant as­pects that will help

A num­ber of years ago I at­tended a lun­cheon mark­ing In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day and dur­ing the event peo­ple wore silly hats and car­ried out an ex­er­cise of laugh­ing for no rea­son.

I was only able to take part in the silly hat part and the lun­cheon, how­ever. Due to time con­straints I was un­able to take part in the laugh­ing ex­er­cise com­po­nent.

I wanted to know if it was as good as I had imag­ined. I had seen a doc­u­men­tary about Dr. Madan Kataria, and his work with “Laugh­ter Yoga” and I saw the ben­e­fits demon­strated.

To find out first hand from peo­ple who had at­tended the lo­cal “laugh­ter­size” ( ex­er­cise with laugh­ter) I had spo­ken with a cou­ple of peo­ple who were able to stay and en­joy the demon­stra­tion of laugh­ing for their well-be­ing.

One per­son ex­plained that al­though she didn’t even re­ally want to laugh at first, she par­tic­i­pated and ended up laugh­ing along with ev­ery­one else. When it was over, she said she felt phys­i­cally dif­fer­ent, was re­laxed and felt good.

The sec­ond per­son I spoke with also men­tioned how good the event made her feel. Feel­ing a sense of pur­pose through sup­port­ing a good cause – as it was also a fundraiser – and hav­ing a rea­son to laugh added a spe­cial as­pect that gave a great gift to­wards emo­tional, men­tal, phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual well-be­ing.

She shared an­other story of how spe­cial times like th­ese weave their way through her life. She told me about how she has an an­nual din­ner with a group of women she grad­u­ated with over 50 years ago.

Stay­ing con­nected with this group for so long, she ques­tioned why they never ran out of things to share like mem­o­ries, life’s ex­pe­ri­ences, trou­bles – and laughs, lots of laughs. They had never tired of each other. What may have ap­peared as “old” years ago feels very young now. Each of them was in their seven­ties and they knew they were not nearly done liv­ing yet.

They shared how they con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence new things like Tai Chi, Yoga, art­work and just liv­ing life to the fullest.

Re­search shows the many ways in which laugh­ing is good for us, like pain re­lief, greater hap­pi­ness, and it even im­proves our im­mune sys­tem.

This fun ex­er­cise also re­duces stress through re­leas­ing hor­mones. This sounds tech­ni­cal and per­haps it is, yet we don’t even re­ally need to know all that, we just need to know that it makes us feel bet­ter.

A part of ag­ing well is re­duc­ing stress and feel­ing con­nected with oth­ers. Peo­ple don’t al­ways take enough time to laugh and yet it is con­ta­gious so please, take time to laugh and pass it along. Help spread the joy­ous feel­ing.

If you need a lit­tle help, pick out or cre­ate a funny card and send it to some­one out of the blue. Just think­ing of their re­ac­tion to it can cre­ate a gig­gle.

Pick out a silly movie and don’t ex­pect any great depth to the story, just take it for what it is meant, a laugh.

Who knows, maybe your di­aphragm will get a work out – who says be­ing a couch potato doesn’t have its health ben­e­fits.

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