has written more than twenty computer
software manuals, numerous newspaper
articles, including a
monthly health column
for The Sarasota
She's the author of two books
Living With Big Cats:
The Story of
Jungle Larry, Safari
For ordering information, click here.
To read more about these books,
participate in an ongoing
joke contest, surf on over to
The author currently lives on Florida's Space Coast.
Shara has recently signed with a New York Literary agency.
Humour and Health
Wooten In-depth on Humour and Coping
- Part 5 of 5
Patty Wooten,RN BSN CCRN, has
published a number of articles and presented numerous seminars on
therapeutic health. Wooten and other researchers report that mirthful laughter lowers some
stress-related hormones. "We are now finding scientific evidence and
measurable responses that are beginning to prove that laughter is
But that's not all. While experts argue over the 'medicinal' value of "laughter", there is little doubt in the minds of some that humour plays an integral role in the ability to cope with difficult situations.
"Nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals cope daily with the
reality and horror of illness, suffering, and death. If we are unable to
cope effectively with this, we experience "burnout" which is more accurately
called 'compassion fatigue'", says Wooten.
She believes that laughter "provides us with a momentary release from the
intensity of what otherwise might be overwhelming." This goes hand in hand with the old folk saying 'Might as well laugh as cry'. Some of us automatically use humor to gain a
new perspective and to find a way to function in a situation that could
otherwise be intolerable." [Editor's Note: Which might explain why NBC's "Saturday Night Live" is still on the air after years of being intolerably unfunny. :-) ]
Wooten also believes that in allowing one's self to
to laugh about an overwise dreadful situation, we can accept our inadequacies and
'forgive ourselves'. In her words, "It (laughter) allows us to rise above our difficulties and experience the beauty of
life beyond the hardships of giving care. We transcend our everyday
problems and feel optimistic and hopeful. Searching for humor, looking for
something to laugh about, keeps us from focusing on the elements that are
overwhelming or depressing."
Wooten also has her own elaborate definition of laughter:
"Laughter is a smile that engages the entire body. At first, the corners of
the mouth turn up slightly, then the muscles around your eyes engage and we
can see a twinkling in the eyes. Next you begin to make noises, ranging
from controlled snickers, escaped chortles, and spontaneous giggles, to
ridiculous cackles, noisy hoots, and uproarious guffaws. Your chest and
abdominal muscles become activated. As the noises get louder, you begin to
bend your body back and forth, sometimes slapping your knees, stomping your
feet on the floor or perhaps elbowing another person nearby. As laughter
reaches its peak, tears flow freely. All of this continues until you feel
so weak and exhausted that you must sit down or fall down."
Clearly, Patty Wooten is a woman who appreciates a good joke.
Measuring the effects of laughter, Wooten says that researchers can
"qualify the importance of humor and laughter in the health care setting,
either as an adjunct therapeutic tool for patients or as a self-care
tool to offset the harmful effects of job stress."
She sums up, "Stress or negative emotion has been
associated with immunosuppression. It has been suggested that the
pleasant feelings occurring with mirthful laughter can modify some of
the neuroendocrine components of the stress response. Natural killer
cells are responsible for the early recognition and removal of virus and
So, in the end, it appears it's not a matter of one laughing one's self to death (as in that famous Monty Python skit about the Joke that Killed), but rather of your ability to laugh yourself back to Health. Next time you're sick, try skipping the aspirin - rent a comedy.
This week's healthy humor pick:
Patty Wooten's site, Jest for the Health of It (tm):
My Achin' Back!
Does laughing make you feel better when you're sick? Got any experiences to share? Or. . .do you ever suffer from back pain? (Next week's topic!) If so, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to the top / The New Sideroad/ Go to the latest column
Issue # 13
Tuesday, Jan. 27, 1998
Humour and Health
Part 1 of 5
- "Think You're Funny?" (A look at laughter.)
Part 2 of 5
- What the Experts Say. . .
Part 3 of 5
- A Matter of Perspective
Part 4 of 5
- Humour as a Coping Mechanism
Overcoming Sleep Disorders
Part 1 of 4
- how your mattress can make all the difference.
Part 2 of 4
- strategies to help you sleep.
Part 3 of 4
- more strategies to help you sleep.
Part 4 of 4
- what is a sleep log and how does it work?
Stats indicate that for those over the age of 50, one of every two women
and one in eight men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Our
sedentary lifestyle puts us at risk for this disease. Yet osteoporosis
is not inevitable. Here's some information on
this disease and how we can prevent it.
Part 1 of 4 -
- details the likelihood of developing this disease, and its dangers and consequences.
Part 2 of 4 -
- presents the risk factors of osteoporosis and some of our
misconceptions about the disease.
Part 3 of 4 -
- insights into diagnosis, and basic management techniques.
Part 4 of 4 -
- new medical treatments to stop osteoporosis, and safety in the home of osteoporosis sufferers.
My Achin' Back!