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Providing the Stress Management Support Your Deserve

Everyone has to deal with difficult people, whether they are argumentative, abusive, stubborn, or combative. The question is: how can you assert your rights without creating an unnecessary incident?

In most cases, angry people are screaming to be heard. They want to be valued, loved, and listened to. They want to feel important, but aren't able to express themselves constructively. With the right attitude, it's possible to get past these insecurities and reach an understanding. In this segment, we offer a range of approaches and tools to better assist you in managing your daily stress. Thank you for visiting this stress management segment.

Laughter Therapy

By Dr. Ashraf Girgis N.D. 
 Published First on 02.23.2015 

We cannot avoid stress in today’s world, regardless of how our way of life is. Just watching TV and hearing news of tragedies thousands of miles away is enough to upset even the most calm-minded individuals. Stress can creep in without our control and cause damage to our health, emotionally and physically. Laughing is one of the best ways to overcome these emotions.

 You might say, “But I don’t feel like laughing!” Don’t worry; according to scientists at the University of Maryland, acting like you’re laughing will have same health effects as a real laughter, regardless of how you feel. Micheal Miller, M.D. is thedirector of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "The old saying that 'laughter is the best medicine' definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," said Dr. Miller. "We don't know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately to a heart attack."


In some cultures, laughter is even discouraged, and laughing loudly is a sign of vanity. I grew up in Iran, and I remember, one day as a kid I was running around with other kids in a small vilage and laughing. Suddenly, an older seriouse looking kid chastised us, saying, “Do you guys realize that each laughter will follow with thousands of tears?” Of course, that made us laugh even louder and harder, to the point where we started having tears in our eyes. He then concluded immediately that he was right. “See,” he said, “I told you! You all are crying!”

I am sure not many in Iran think this way at all. In fact in Iran jokes are a way of dissipating worries and laughing at it. In addition there are growing numbers of laughter therapy sessions in iran as shown in this pictute. However, there are these kinds of unspoken cultural rules about laughing many societies. But what is it about laughter that is so important for our health, especially when it comes to dealing with everyday stress?




The first time laughter was focused on as a therapy was in 1979 with the book of "Anatomy of an Illness". In his book, Dr. Norman Cousin claimed that he cured himself from Ankylosing Spondylitis by using humor. He stated that he was experiencing excruciating pain and needed to receive numerous pain medications around the clock. Eventually, he was told there was not much they could do for him in the hospital. He was sent to housing next to the hospital so that he could receive palliative care. There, he started watching funny television shows; the kind that he always loved, but as a Doctor, never had time to watch. Gradually, he was in need of less and less medication and felt better. Soon, he was eased off his pain medication completely.


After some time, Dr. Cousin was able to resume his normal function. Everyone at his work was amazed by his recovery. He was encouraged to write his story in the hope that others might look into it and investigate further. “With ten minutes of laughter,” Dr. Cousin wrote, “two hours of pain-free sleep could be procured”.

  Since then, researchers and scientists have been looking into laughter therapy. In 1995, after reading Doctor Norman Cousin’s book, Dr. Kataria from India decided to practice laughter with his cancer patients.  At first he asked his patients to bring a funny joke every morning. After a while, though, the jokes were becoming inappropriate or not so funny. So, he decided to create a set of simple yoga gestures, followed by a deep belly laugh. He noticed improvements in his patients’ health and then created “Laughter Clubs”, where people can go and laugh for 10-15 minutes a day. His clubs expanded, and now there are laughter clubs all over the world.

Dr. Madan Kataria’s “Laughter Yoga” is based on the concept that our bodies can't tell the difference between real and fake laughter. Because both kinds of laughter produce the same beneficial results, it doesn't matter if a person has to fake a few laughs; there still may be great benefits for the mind and body.




Laughter yoga is an easy way to incorporate laughter into your daily life, and it requires no special skills or athletic ability to practice. A typical session involves stretching, deep breathing, and laughter exercises.

At the University of Maryland, a study showed that watching humorous movies or sitcoms increases blood flow. Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University published studies that show laughing lowers blood pressure and reduces stress hormones. It also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being. The results of the study also supported research indicating a general decrease in stress hormones that constrict blood vessels and suppress immune activity. For example, levels of epinephrine were lower in the group both in anticipation of humor and after exposure to humor. Epinephrine levels remained down throughout the experiment in this group relative to the control group.


In addition, dopamine levels (as measured by dopac) were also decreased. Dopamine is involved in the "fight or flight response", and is associated with elevated blood pressure. Laughter also reduces at least four of neuroendocrine hormones associated with a stress response. These are epinephrine, cortisol, dopac, and growth hormone.

Laughing is also an aerobic exercise, providing a workout for the diaphragm and increasing the body's ability to use oxygen. It increases muscle flexion and muscle relaxation—a belly laugh results in muscle relaxation. While you laugh, the muscles that do not participate in the belly laugh relax. After you finish laughing, muscles that are involved in the laughter start to relax. Laughter can provide good cardiac conditioning as well, especially for those who are unable to perform physical exercises. Laughter is called “internal jogging”, and it has all the psychological benefits of good workouts. Laughter stimulates the release of hormones called endorphins (“Happy Hormones”). This causes people to feel happier and less stressed.      


 In conclusion, laughter is known to:

Reduce stress hormones
Improve circulation
Stimulate the immune system
Exercise muscles
Alleviate depression and anxiety
Decrease pain intensity

So, let’s keep laughing for the sake of our physical and mental health.



 Thanks for visiting For questions, please call our office at (616)-777-0608 and leave a message.Wish you the best in managing your stress.  If you want to learn more about how meditate and the science behind it, feel free to sign up for Dr. Girgis’s seminars on our website..  Feel free to follow us on twitter for our latest postings.

 Ashraf Girgis N.D.


Girgis, Ashraf, ND. Holistic approach to stress . N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
"HowStuffWorks - Learn How Everything Works!" HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
"Laughter Therapy." Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Cancer Treatment Centers of America, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.
Martin, Rod A. "Do Children Laugh Much More Often than Adults Do?" Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
McGhee, Paul E., Ph.D. " Articles on Health and Humor." Articles on Children's Humor. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
Murray, Michelle. "Laughter Is the Best Medicine for Your Heart." University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland Medical Center, 2 July 2013. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.


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