They weren’t joking around when they said laughter is the best medicine! Laughter is a great form of stress relief and promotes your well-being mental health.
What the Research Tells Us
Research demonstrates that laughter can provide great short-term benefits such as organ stimulation, stress relief, and decreased tension. When you laugh, your oxygen intake increases, stimulating your heart, lungs, and muscles; your brain releases endorphins; and your heart rate and blood pressure decrease, reducing some of the physical symptoms of stress and just generally making you feel good.
Laughing often is also linked to long-term effects such as improved immunity, decreased pain, increased personal satisfaction, and better overall mood. One study even found that humor therapy led to improvement in cognitive function.
How to Practice
Kick off National Humor Month on April Fools’ Day with a wisecrack, then recognize the importance of laughter and joy and their therapeutic impact all month long with a joke, quip, or giggle every day. Need some ideas to get started? Consider these strategies from ONS members who chuckle with their colleagues and share puns with their patients.
“The truth is cancer is serious business, but the patients do not want all of their days to be somber and serious. A long time ago, I learned that a good, hard belly laugh actually releases endorphins and relieves pain,” Ann Smith, RN, MSN, OCN®, NPD-BC, infusion nurse at a City of Hope community site in Torrance, CA, and member of the South Bay ONS Chapter, said. “A clever quip, joke, or even sarcastic remark can make a patient and their support people laugh, lightens the mood, and decreases anxiety.”
People often ask Smith how she has worked in cancer care for so long, and she said that she has realized that her efforts to relieve her patients’ tension lightens her own load.
“Maya Angelou was completely right when she said, ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel,’” Smith said. “Humor makes people feel good, and that is memorable, even if that stupid pun is not worth remembering. I am proud when I can make another person feel good, whether that person is a patient, a coworker, or a friend.”
Sorry, can’t tell you that.
What’s the proper way to use a stress ball?
Throw it at the last person who made you mad!
The nurse told the parents of a newborn, “You have a really cute baby.”
The parents agreed but said, “You say that to all new parents.”
The nurse assured them that she only said it about really beautiful babies.
The parents asked her what she says to the babies that are not cute.
“The baby looks just like you!” was her reply.
Paula Anastasia, MN, RN, AOCN®, clinical nurse specialist at UCLA Health in Los Angeles, CA, and member of the Greater Los Angeles ONS Chapter, said that being involved in caring for patients with cancer and their families keeps her humble, but it can also require a lot of self-care and well-being, including finding humor in her practice.
“Nurses sharing funny stories after achieving a happy outcome during a stressful event are the best moments of bonding,” Anastasia said. “I am sure all nurses have comical stories and some that make your eyes roll.”
Life isn’t about the moments that take our breath away.
That’s asthma. You’re thinking about asthma.
My sister said to me: “My nurse practitioner told me to accessorize and buy nice shoes.”
I replied: “I am pretty sure she said to exercise and eat the right foods!”
A patient asked their nurse: “Can you stop yawning when I talk to you?”
The nurse said: “I’m not yawning. I’m trying to say something!”
While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly folks, I used to take my four-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds. She was intrigued by the various appliances of old age. One day, I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I embraced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, “The tooth fairy will never believe this!”
I was at a restaurant last night and a server screamed, “Anyone know CPR?”
I said, “Heck, I know the entire alphabet!”
Everyone laughed . . . well, except this one guy.
Do you have a nurse joke or funny story that you’d like to share? Visit the ONS Communities to contribute to the laughs!
“We need to laugh and find things to smile about every day,” Anastasia said. “It is a great stress release.”