Humor as Healer
Have you ever heard of Norman Cousins? He was a political journalist, an activist for world peace, and long-time editor of the magazine Saturday Review. However, he’s probably most famous for his book, Anatomy of an Illness (as Perceived by the Patient). In it, he details how he was diagnosed with a serious, life-threatening disease. When he didn’t respond to standard medical treatment, he added something he’d long thought was good for your health: the healing power of humor.
Laughing His Way to Recovery
With his doctor’s permission, Cousins left the hospital and started watching hours and hours of funny movies and TV shows at home. As reported by NPR, he found out that a good belly-laugh resulted in being able to sleep pain-free. Little by little, through hours of laughing at humorous books, movies, and TV shows, Cousins made a full recovery – even though his doctor had said there was only a 1 in 500 chance that he could do so.
Convinced that watching funny movies and TV shows had cured him, Cousins wrote an article in the New England Journal of Medicine about his experience. This spurred a new way of thinking among medical professionals about the impact of humor on the immune system.
Further Evidence of the Benefits of Humor and Laughter
Cousins’ example is extreme, but even patients who are responding well to treatment or recovering according to a schedule can benefit from laughter. It may speed their recovery, take their mind off fear or pain, and even help them bond with their visiting loved ones.
Science shows that humor and laughter have physiological impacts on the body: lowering levels of cortisol, increasing levels of beta-endorphins and raises pain tolerance levels. According to the National Institutes of Health, many research studies indicate a connection between laughter and healing: “Virtually all studies of laughter and health indicate positive results.” TIME magazine reports that laughter “may even compare to a proper diet and exercise when it comes to keeping you healthy and disease-free.”
Give Your Patients the Chance to Laugh
One of the best ways for patients to induce laughter’s healing properties is the same way Norman Cousins did – by watching comedies or funny movies, or just taking time for mindfulness and relaxation. A hospital supports its patients by providing access to on-demand movies and other forms of entertainment and distraction. With products like the HCI Portable Tablet or BedMate Tablet TV, patients have easy access to humor content. Other options include humorous games or “joke of the day” apps, which are all configurable to how your facility wants to present them. You can include podcasting apps for meditation and music apps designed for healing rest, like Chuck Wild’s “Liquid Mind” series. Support your patients’ recovery with a variety of interactive patient entertainment options for relaxation and better rest using the method that works best for them.
Schedule a virtual demo to learn more about our Interactive Patient Care solutions and our other options for patient support in their journey toward healing.