About Lupus

Lupus Coping Corner

Humor

Jessica Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Amy Caron
Project Director
Lupus Research Institute

As I write this on April 1st, I am getting a lot of good laughs from all of the April Fool's jokes I am seeing. For example, a great goof was that Twitter was going to charge $5 per month for using vowels in tweets! 

But the fun doesn't have to end on April 2. The entire month of April is National Humor Month! Humor is helpful every day of the year, but why not spend 30 days letting laughter into your life?

At support groups here at the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation, newcomers are often astonished at how much laughing takes place. Lupus can be a challenging disease to live with, and some might wonder what there is to laugh about. Believe it or not, our support group members find plenty. For example: How about those stories of bursts of energy at 3am from prednisone use which leads to rearranging all of your furniture and/or cleaning your home top and bottom like it's never been cleaned before! How about giggling at yourself for accidentally putting your keys in the fridge because you were in a lupus fog? No question lupus is very serious, but sometimes a great way to cope is to be able to laugh at ourselves by regarding our failings with compassion.  Laughter is, indeed, a great medicine, and humor is one of the greatest coping mechanisms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter has both short-term and long-term effects. For example, laughter stimulates an increase in endorphins, one of the happiness hormones that our body naturally produces, as well as an overall sense of relaxation due to a decrease in the body's stress response and in muscle tension.  The Mayo Clinic reports that one long-term effect of laughter is a decrease in pain. Have you noticed this to be true? 

Laughter also makes it easier to deal with difficult situations. Maybe your doctor isn't listening in the way you'd like ; perhaps kidding around with him or her will loosen up the energy in the room and create space for more interpersonal communication. It's really hard to maintain a tense relationship once you've shared a laugh. Even spending one minute laughing with another person can change the emotional tone of your day. I know that if I am feeling particularly grumpy and I share a smile or laugh with someone, even a complete stranger, I start to feel a lot lighter. Perhaps it's those happiness hormones kicking in! 

But what about when you are aren’t up for being with people and your only companion is the television. If I were you, I'd choose a funny movie or sitcom and avoid tearjerkers. If I am feeling down, I need a funny distraction, never anything sad or intense.

Here are the top 3 things I like if I need a laugh:

1. Look at pictures of incredibly cute dogs on Dogbook’s Pinterest page
2. Watch Bill Cosby standup
3. Listening to StarTalk Live podcasts

What about you? What do you do when you are in need of a laugh? Tell us on our Facebook page.

Visit our website for other simple suggestions, print brochures, catch up on our past webinars to learn more about lupus and share the information on your social media pages.

Update: We are no longer accepting comments on our site, but please share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

 

 

Lupus Coping Corner

Disclaimer: The information provided by the S.L.E Lupus Foundation is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a medical or mental illness, nor be a substitute for professional care. Consult your healthcare provider if you have or suspect you may have a medical or mental health problem.

Amy Caron, MPH is a lupus patient and Project Director of the Lupus Research Institute provider education initiative.  She is not a physician or counselor.  The suggestions shared in this column are strictly opinions from the perspective of a lay person with lupus. Lupus is a very individualized illness; consult a healthcare professional before making any decisions about your care.

The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation does not provide any direct medical or psychological services nor recommend or endorse any particular treatment or therapy. The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation employees, consultants, and agents shall not be liable for any claims or damages, and expressly disclaim all liability of any nature for any action or non-action taken as a result of the information generated by the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation programs and its website, as well as the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Facebook and Twitter pages.