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A LAUGHING MATTER?

Consider the benefits of laughter and a sense of humor

April Fool’s Day might be the healthy way to start this month. Whatever method of prank (rubber insects, whoopie cushion, etc.) laughter is key. “Laughter has shown physiological, psychological, social, spiritual and quality-of-life benefits,” writes Ramon Mora-Ripoll, M.D., Ph.D., in a review of “laughter literature,” published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.

Recent studies show that laughter therapy may reduce stress, delay the onset of diabetic complications, improve sociability and activity in older people, lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease and help children who have atopic dermatitis. Laughter yoga might even improve the psychological and physiological status of healthy adults.

While I found no direct link between laughter and ocular allergy or inflammation, two themes in this issue of Optometric Management, laughter may help alleviate stress associated with these conditions.

Research also suggests that the act of hearing laughter can reduce stress. And, in some studies, it was noted that laughter also had a positive affect on those providing care.

A TEACHER WALKS INTO A CLASSROOM...

Humor may also play a significant role in education. The article, “Humor, Laughter, Learning and Health! A Brief Review,” notes, “humor improves student performance by attracting and sustaining attention, reducing anxiety, enhancing participation and increasing motivation.” They conclude that effective humor relates to course content and doesn’t disparage others. Also, humor can be used to demonstrate the instructor is comfortable with making and communicating mistakes.

Humor in an optometric practice does require some finesse, as there are patient sensitivities. Also, humor is subjective — it’s easy to bomb. In the book The Humor Code, authors Pete McGraw and Joel Warner recommend pointers for success — among them: be authentic, laugh at yourself, and poke fun at common worries (that tricky software upgrade?). It’s an opportunity to help improve care, boost practice performance and create stronger bonds with both patients and staff.

If your practice facilitates laughter, I invite you to email me at james.thomas@pentavisionmedia.com with your tips on how you incorporate humor into your practice. (Feel free to include a favorite joke.) We will share the tips in an upcoming issue of OM. OM