“Laughter is healthy,” some people say, or “Laughter is the best medicine.” The last thing we think of when we laugh is that it could heal or help us. With all the nonsense in your head, there is no room for that.
However, it can be different if we want to make others laugh. When someone isn’t feeling well and we want to take their mind off things, we sometimes joke. There are even people who dress up just to make jokes and go to places where people who are less fortunate are being cared for – the hospital and nursing home.
Anyone who has ever been sick for a few days knows what it’s like to feel weak and miserable. Insecure because you don’t know exactly when things will get better again. Bored because you don’t have the strength to do something great yourself and hardly anyone has time to take care of someone. Then something might still hurt, and without wanting to, you begin to deal more and more with this pain. It certainly doesn’t make the pain any less! And it doesn’t get you healthy any faster.
And these are all side effects when you are normally ill at home for a few days. In the hospital, there is a lot more: the illness or injury is usually worse or more difficult to treat. Everything is strange and unfamiliar. People you don’t know come close, touch and examine you – and usually in a hurry because there are so many others to take care of as well. On the one hand, a hospital is the best place to get well again. On the other hand, one has to say that the strange noises and smells and people and daily routines and constraints don’t really make it easy for us to get well again.
Appearance Dr. stubs It was by this name that circus clown Michael Christensen introduced himself one spring day more than 35 years ago as he walked into the pediatric ward of a New York hospital to cheer up young patients who had had heart surgery. Not only did he have a red clown nose, but he also had hospital gimmicks like some plastic spiders he pretended were for cardiac stress tests. The chief physician was enthusiastic, the woman who Dr. Stubs had invited (and actually took care of donations for the children’s department of the hospital), of course. And the children first!
dr Stubs had to come back, and Michael Christensen and his colleagues organized for circus clowns to visit other children’s hospitals in New York. Today there are hospital clowns in many cities in many countries. It’s not all people who are also clowns in their main job, there are many volunteers, i.e. people who do it to do something good. They take courses to learn how to act like a hospital clown and also show each other jokes and tricks. They then come – often in pairs – to the bedside and try to measure fever with a measuring tape. Or they have a toilet paper roll with them to apply a bandage. Or balloons or soap bubbles or musical instruments. Or they claim that the little patients get back on their feet quickest if they get lots of sweets. Harmless nonsense that helps to forget that everything here in the clinic is not that easy right now. Outside of the hospitals, you hardly notice anything about their work. That’s why the “Clowns for Children in Hospitals”, as a Germany-wide association is called, decided to also perform outside of hospitals this Friday, October 7th, so that everyone can see what they’re doing.
And it’s contagious too!
It is clear that it is good to take your mind off things when you are ill. That it puts you in a good mood, that the sick feel lighter when someone jokes with them. It awakens and strengthens the lust for life, the courage to face life. And that alone helps to get healthy again. But there are even medical studies showing the effect of smiling and laughing. When we laugh, we breathe differently. More oxygen gets into the blood, and because the heart beats faster, the oxygen supply to the body improves. Likewise the blood flow. Stress hormones – messenger substances that the brain releases to prepare the body for exertion – are broken down again, happiness hormones are released, i.e. messenger substances that … well? … Exactly! Even the sensation of pain decreases.
There are adults who think that what laughter can do is so good and important that they arrange to have a laugh. For example laughter yoga. It was thought up by a doctor from India more than 25 years ago. No jokes are told, but there are exercises like real yoga, except that these exercises have something to do with laughter. At first you actually only pretend to laugh, but the strange thing is that later you can’t tell when the fake laugh turned into a real one. It happens. And it’s contagious. As usual only diseases. Yet it is healthy.