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Some of the Physical Benefits of Laughter

1. Cardiac Dilation and Circulation (Heart Rate Down)

2. Blood Pressure Increases and Goes Down Similar to Fitness Program Response

3. Muscle Tension

4. Catecholamines - Natural Painkillers (Endorphins/Enkephalins) Increased

Some of the Psychological & Emotional Benefits of Laughter

1. Increase Communication and Intimacy

2. Decrease in Conflict and Anger/ Changes your Perception

3. Helps to Deal with More Stressful and Emotionally Charged Situations

4. Brings Optimism and Hope into the Situation


Fuzión family members test their voices - May 2012
Leymis Bolaños-Wilmott, the artistic director of Fuzión Dance Artists, says the first place she ever danced was in her living room in front of family members - "a safe place where I could explore in front of a supportive audience."

A modern day return to The Red Tent - March 2012
Women have long sought a place to gather away from the interference of children, husbands or fathers.

The Colleyville Journal, Texas
Cancer Survivor's Day - June 2005

"We're alive, and it's a day to celebrate that fact"

"Laugh For the Health of It"
Read Hedda's article on Laugh For the Health of It

Tribune Star article - June 2004
Cancer survivors laugh way to health

Best stress reducer? Laughter - February 2003
Laughter is a healing, cathartic release, says social worker Hedda Matza-Haughton.

Crain's New York - February 2000
Coach builds her practice on medicinal mirth

2000 Patient Family Conference:
Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation
View the entire PDF from the 2000 Conference
(see pages 3 and 7).

“Laugh For the Health of It”

by Hedda Matza- Haughton, LCSW
President and Founder of “For the Health of It” Consultation Services

Today it is a well-known fact that the mind and body influence each other. One’s emotional well being has a direct effect on our physical health. I’m Princess Juicy Joy, sometimes known as Hedda Matza-Haughton, LCSW, President and Founder of “For the Health of It Consultation Services." Laughter and life are one and the same for me. The sound of laughter brings me joy. It is documented that laughter brings healing benefits to the mind, body, and spirit. I have dedicated my life to bringing this message to as many people as possible. Laughter truly can transform pain, … and even more. As April is the month of laughter, let’s increase our laughter and joy this month and continue it throughout the year.

At each of my fun- filled workshops, entitled, "Laugh For the Health of It", there is laughing while learning. Research demonstrates how laughter can make a profound difference in our emotional state, our perspective on life, and our physiological well being. Humorous interactions bring us closer together, defuse frightening situations, improve communication, and aid in healing.

In the February 2000 issue of Crain’s New York Business, Hilary Rosenberg states that "Laugh For the Health of It" programs “shows people how to use their funny bone to benefit the rest of the body…. She [Hedda Matza-Haughton] helps participants use laughter and play to reduce stress, and along with traditional medicine, to improve health-a connection that has been proven by medical studies.

First studies of the effect of humor on the body were conducted as early as the 1930’s in the US . It was not until 1979 that humor research was finally put on the map, when Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful and crippling arthritis. In his book Anatomy of an Illness, he described how doctors gave him little chance of recovery. However, through a combination of mainstream medicine and large doses of humor (videos of Candid Camera, Three Stooges, and the Marx Brothers­), after eight days his pain began to subside, and he returned to work.

Dr. Lee Berk, at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California , examined before and after blood samples from people who had viewed humorous videos, and from a control group that had not. This well-known study demonstrated the laughter group had a reduction in stress hormone levels and enhanced immune function.

Memorable times mostly include moments of laughter and fun. We feel better, we are enjoying the moment, and we can’t wait to tell our family and friends about these times. From all my workshops on laughter, I have had memorable moments- moments that had laughter, joy, and intense positive emotions. The laughter and fun was contagious.

Let me share some of the ways some of the participants at conferences have already “made the connection” and are living lives where you use laughter in your arsenal of healing tools. One widow shared that missing her partner had hindered her passion for dancing. So of course, I swept her in my arms, and in front of the whole group, we joyfully danced her favorite dance, the rumba. After that at the workshop through interactive exercises she created a list of how she was going to bring more dancing into her life once again. Another woman shared that she dealt with chemotherapy by wearing a different funny hat (such as a Carmen Miranda hat) to treatment, bringing joy to herself, other patients and staff. Even a hotel employee observing a workshop confided that if his brother, who had died this past year, had been able to attend this workshop “it would have been such an acknowledgment of how he used laughter to improve the quality of his life after diagnosis. It would have helped our family understand how important it was for his health and ours.

Illness, and particularly life threatening illness, hits us like a “ton of bricks” when we hear the news, as I know from my own personal experience, as well as from my immediate family. It then takes courage and strength to deal with the illness and be an active part of the healing and recovery. This is true of chronic illness, life-threatening illness and well as other stressors. We each have, what I call, an “inner voice” talking to us, which often focuses on the negative. However, I have learned that that “inner voice” can have a new sound track superimposed over it, if we increase the moments we have of joy, laughter, fun and passion for what we are doing. The more we replace it, the more our body hears, both physiologically and psychologically. And then we reap the benefits of laughter.

This seems too simple. Yes it is! But often when we are facing reoccurring incidents in illness, or ongoing stress dealing with other life situations and we have more difficulty in enjoying and laughing. But I say it is one of the ways to better handle the difficult times. We get closer to people when we laugh and have fun together. We can even laugh at some of the difficult times! When I faced a life threatening illness, it had more benefits than I could ever imagine. During my hospital stay when I had a mastectomy, my brother, who had also experienced cancer, told me jokes and made me laugh each day. He knew how important it was to my immune system, as a painkiller, as a muscle relaxer, as a powerful cathartic process, and as a way to increase communication and intimacy, and bring optimism and hope to a situation. One of the results of the laughter pouring from my room every day was that the nurses then looked at me as a person, not just the breast cancer in room 404.

I am in no way saying we should be laughing all the time during illness and or other stressful times. Certainly that would be absurd. But I am saying that illness and other stressors often take us out of control. We feel we have no control over certain parts of ourselves. Most of us like to be in control, even if we don’t admit it. But how we spend our days, what our outlook is, how we try to live in the moment, rather than worrying about tomorrow, is all in our power. We need to and must take that power and make it good for us. We are in a new role in our life as we experience illness and other stress, and our family and friends will follow our lead if we take the risk of taking the power to control our days and not have the illness control us. "Tuesdays with Morrie," a New York Times best seller, and TV Movie with Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria, is a perfect example of how you can reframe your life at any stage.

Some practical suggestions to increase laughter are the following:

Set up a laughter corner in your home and where you work

  • Collect items that make you laugh as soon as you look at them.
  • Keep audiotapes and videos for times you want some additional support.
  • Keep a red clown nose for all doctor appointments.
Read Daily Joyful Affirmations

Affirmations are statements that affirm beliefs and reinforce them in a positive way. Research has shown that the way we think, is the way we feel, and the way we feel, is the way we act. By stating them each day, they are more in your belief system, and influence the way you feel and act. A list of joyful affirmations is included in my Princess Juicy Joy Laughter Kit and you can contact me for more information on how to obtain one.

Laughter Partner/Laughter Events Together

Find someone you easily laugh with and call them and just laugh when you need to, or decide that you will share jokes in person at least once a week, or you will meet once a week to do a fun-filled activity. Call them Laughter Dates. Schedule them in your calendar.

These are just a few suggestions to add more laughter, fun, and play in your life. Research has proven that there are both physiological and emotional benefits of laughter. I would suggest that regularly, you find a joke or a funny experience, and tell it brilliantly to someone else. Afterwards, write down how you felt in a notebook, which we will call your Laughter Book. Be sure to write down the joke or story too. If you are anything like me, you will forget it otherwise. Feel free to write or e-mail me what you experienced after increasing laughter, fun and play in your life.

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