How Can Humor Help Arthritis?

Medical researchers have documented that people with rheumatoid arthritis who have a greater sense of humor feel less pain than those who don't laugh or smile as much. A good laugh lifts your spirits, reduces stress, and increases the release of hormones in your body known as endorphins, which are considered nature's natural painkillers. 

A sense of humor begins with a positive attitude and the determination not to let your condition get you down. Smiles and laughter can come from anywhere: a TV show, a live comedian, a funny bumper sticker, or a shared experience with your family or group of good friends. You can take smalls steps to find humor even in the most mundane situations.

Glam Up Your Pill Box
You're not the only person who uses one of those plastic 7-day pill boxes with letters representing the days of the week. But yours can be unique. Encrust your case with plastic jewels or buttons, or cover it with decorative stickers. If you're not up to the task, have young friends or family members do the decorating for you. Just be sure the letters stays clear and readable so that it's still easy to know what to take when. And while you're at it, dress up any assistive devices you use so they look a little less like medical mobility supplies and a little more like cool accessories.

Wear It on Your Sleeve
Throw on a t-shirt that says "I make arthritis look good!"  You can order one online or make it yourself with fabric paints. You may or may not want to make this announcement to the world at large by wearing your banner shirt to the supermarket but, if not, it is sure to get a laugh from your doctor's staff or any gathering of people who can relate to what you're going through as someone who lives with a chronic disease.

Talk it Up
Some of the events that make your day-to-day life with arthritis more difficult may not seem too funny at the time but can be good stories to tell your friends and family later on. Think of moments that are so ridiculous you have to laugh to keep from crying. Like the time you stood up too quickly, lost your balance, fell back down into the large magazine basket next to your couch, and it took two or three family members to pull you back up again. Maybe that exact thing didn't happen to you, but finding the humor in similar scary situations where you didn't get hurt puts a positive spin back on things. Relaying the story to others can give you the benefit of more good feelings from a second laugh at yourself. You not only bring more laugher into our own life but also into the lives of others so that they get all the benefits, too.

There are both physical and psychological advantages to having a good sense of humor. Every minute you spend smiling or laughing is another minute spent free of pain. Laughter provides the distraction you sometimes need to take the focus off your illness, even if just for a moment. Minutes add up to hours and, eventually, instead of looking back on a lifetime of pain and fatigue, you will also be reflecting on many, many moments of shared laughter and joy.



Arizona Arthritis Center: Humor and Arthritis (Video) Web

Dunbar, RI et al; "Social Laughter is Correlated with an Elevated Pain Threshold." Proceedings. Biological Sciences/The Royal Society 3012 Mar 22;279(1731):1161-7 Web

Leise, CM; "The Correlation Between Humor and the Chronic Pain of Arthritis." Journal of Holistic Nursing 1993 ar;11(1):82-95 Web

Mora-Ripoll, R; "The Therapeutic Value of Laughter in Medicine." Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2010 NovDec;16(6):56-64 Web.