We all know humor isn’t going to cure cancer, but there are (at least) three ways in which it can help you beat it. Olivia Clarke started Humor Beats Cancer, a 501(C)3 non-profit, after her own bout with breast cancer because she believes laughter is good medicine.
Stop thinking about yourself.
For starters, humor can help you by getting your mind off of the issues, discomfort, pain, or problems you are feeling in the moment. Olivia sees humor as a coping tool, one of many, you can use to help yourself feel good as a way of self-care.
“Use whatever tools you have in your arsenal to feel good…humor is a coping tool.”~Olivia Clarke
As we discussed on this week’s podcast, humor/jokes/laughter takes the attention off of you and gives you a moment of respite, relief from the mundane of every day. It can help you forget, for a brief moment, the terrible things happening all around you.
Olivia brings out the funny in people by offering writing prompts, organizing open-mic readings, and comedy events. It allows people to see the funny/ridiculous/strange things happening in their lives and take note of them, emphasizing the ironic nature of life sometimes.
Boost your mood and your immune system.
Laughing is indeed good medicine because it releases endorphins and boosts your immune system as a result. St. John’s Health Foundation found that increasing the circulation of endorphins lowered blood pressure and stress hormones in your body.
Studies in psychoneuroimmunology have found that lowering stress boosts the immune system by allowing natural killer cells and T-cells to function better. Another study found that humor improved pain thresholds and increased feelings of well-being in cancer patients.
So it seems there are many good reasons to laugh.
Create deeper connections.
One of the things Olivia has found through her work with Humor Beats Cancer is that as people are telling funny stories of the things that have happened to them, walls and defenses come down and people are able to open up about the more serious conversations they need to have. It opens doors to deeper connections with others.
We don’t always have funny stories at the ready, so it’s okay to take some time to digest the situations in our lives and percolate on them to let the funny moments rise.
Humor, no matter what your favorite flavor, is good as long as it’s good for you. If you don’t find certain things funny, change the channel. If there’s nothing innately funny in your life, watch a funny show, read a funny article or book, tune in to a podcast, radio show, or internet station that will help you get your laugh on!
Laugh with reckless abandon every chance you get!
Here are some of my favorite moments from this episode:
- 1:58 Olivia’s cancer story.
- 3:28 Working full-time and starting a non-profit.
- 5:48 Humor Beats Cancer is born.
- 13:57 Funny stories.
- 20:18 Bringing out the funny in yourself and others.
- 25:21 Do whatever you can to feel good and happy.
- 28:56 How humor can lead to deeper connections.
- 31:51 The funniest thing that happened to Olivia!
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If you’re stressed about what to eat check out episode 34 with Cathy Leman, RD, or episode 35 where I talk about food rules vs. food values. Episode 19 and episode 30 were about balancing components of an anti-cancer lifestyle. Episodes 25, 31, and 32 were about helping you find ways to heal your soul through Reiki and healing touch, writing, and art therapy. Funny episode 16 with Dr. Shari Fox.