Fresh Living

mett.jpgThere’s been a flurry of celebrity illnesses and injuries this week, and two of them jumped off the screen (sigh…remember when things used to jump off of pages?) because in both cases, humor seems to be part of the healing.

First, “Today” show host Matt Lauer flipped off his bicycle in an attempt to avoid a deer that had run into his path.  His injuries are not serious (he apparently separated his shoulder), but they did keep him home from the show…and into the line of teasing from his co-hosts.

Meredith Viera said Lauer had joked with her over email that he suspected the deer had been hired by the competition.  Viera quipped on the air that Lauer was wrong: “I hired the deer, but I said, ‘Just graze him.'”

Second, Robin Williams had heart surgery this week to replace his aortic valve (last month he cut his tour short after experiencing shortness of breath). According to CNN, his doctor reports that, “a couple of hours after surgery, he was entertaining the medical team and making us all laugh.”

Granted, these are entertainers who were making public statements about procedures from which they are expected to fully recover. But it’s worth noting, I think, how humor can crack through tension and worry, even elevating a problem out of the realm of “illness.”  Surely part of these cases is the relief factor–joking about a problem for which there is a solution is a way of saying “whew and hooray, it’s going to be alright.”

But humor is also has a major role in coping with a serious illnesses, and even in moving through grief. The release you feel when you have a good belly laugh is a flush of the “feel-good” brain chemical dopamine and the chemical nitric oxide, which reduces inflammation in our blood vessels. What better way to fight cortisol, the dreaded “stress hormone,” during a painful time than by finding something–something absurd or unrelated or personal or crazy–to laugh about?

How do you use humor as a healing tool? What makes you laugh? Post below, or in our community.


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