Lighten Your Relationship
John H. Thurman Jr., M.Div. M.A., LPCC
The couple in this picture are friends of ours who attend Sagebrush Church in Albuquerque who have been married over fifty years. Doug and Jackie have overcome numerous challenges in the journey but have always managed to keep a great sense of humor and purpose in their marriage.They have and will continue to bless others with their joy and love for each other.
Developing a sense of playfulness, laughter, and joy in your relationship is a lot cheaper than therapy and medication. A sense of humor and joy also come with some tremendous physical, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual benefits. A good laugh can initiate a cascade of healthy, stress-reducing changes in your brain and body.
Laughter aids personal health and wellness by:
• Boosting your mood
• Improving the movement of oxygen to your brain
• Neutralizing stress hormones
• Reducing physical pain
• Bringing down blood pressure
• Boosting your immune system
• Protecting your heart
• Relaxing your body
• Increasing your sex drive
Laughter and joy also have tremendous mental health benefits.
• They reduce stress hormones. Or as my wife calls them "horrormones." When you have a good, deep laugh, the physical activity of laughter causes the body to release certain endorphins that promote a sense of well-being. The chemicals help reduce the excessive production of cortisol, a chemical your body releases when physical, emotional or mental stress are present. Excessive cortisol over time can increase appetite, as well as increase the risk of stroke and other life-threatening heart conditions. Consistent, deep laughter is a natural way to lower the presence of stress hormones in the body.
• They help put things in perspective. When you engage in the process of enjoying life, such as laughing with your spouse and kids, or seeing the possibilities of life, you strengthen your relationships and improve your overall health.
• They are good for the soul. Western and Eastern religions know the value of laughter and joy. The ancient wisdom of the Old Testament mentions this important part of living life in Proverbs 17:22: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries the bones.”
• They can help in anger management. Laughter and joy can reduce tension, eliminate a perceived threat, and open up lines of communication between people, all of which helps lower unhealthy levels of irrational anger. It lowers the compounds released in the body that produce feelings of hostility, anger, and anxiety. Laughing at something that angers you can help you gain a fresh perspective and lighten up.
• They strengthen your relationships. Psychology Today reports that laughter can restore and builds a couple's relationship. It not only brings large groups together, it creates and strengthens a connection between two people, showing they can enjoy being together. For laughter to have an impact in a relationship, it does not have to be a nose running, tear-producing, side-splitter. Just a pinch of humor can re-sync, if only for a short time, the hearts and minds of two people. Additionally, remember, it is cheaper than therapy.
Try laughing and loving a little more this week.
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."