When my newborn son and I were still figuring out breastfeeding, I realized that I was going to be spending a lot of time awake… in the middle of the night… by myself… in the dark. At first, I tried to fight through my sleepiness while I made sure that my new baby’s latch was correct and he was continuing to feed. But later, I found myself creeping downstairs and quietly flipping on the TV. Why not be entertained while I nursed? I reasoned.
It was during this time that I discovered the power of laughter. Yes, I was sleep deprived. Yes, I felt very anxious about whether my newborn baby was gaining weight. But I quickly found that if I pre-recorded a movie or TV show to watch, and made it a comedy or perhaps a romantic flick with some humor, I woke up feeling lighter and more positive the next day. If Jimmy Fallon had been at the helm of the Tonight Show in 2005, he would have been on my DVR every night.
Most of us are aware that prolonged stress has a direct impact on our health and emotional well-being. There is now considerable research that suggests that laughter lowers Cortisol levels and stimulates the immune system, off-setting the negative effects of stress. (Patty Wooton, Humour: An Antidote for Stress) In fact, Norman Cousins is famous for the “laughter-therapy” he used to cure himself of a debilitating disease in the late 1970’s. By prescribing himself a regimen of Marx Brother’s movies and Candid Camera episodes, he was able to eliminate all symptoms of his condition. That’s powerful stuff!
Research or no research, I can personally vouch for laughter being a great thing when you have a newborn, toddler, or kiddo of any age. It is very easy to take life very seriously when you are figuring out how to be a parent. Sometimes we have to step back and laugh at the stream of pee that just landed in our face or the projectile spit-up that just adorned our clean sweater. Sometimes we just have to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, and know these messy, crazy-making moments are fleeting.
Laugh with your partner. Laugh with your friends. Laugh with your kids. Or laugh by yourself in the middle of the night. You’ll be glad that you did, I promise.
Tips For Sanity:
- Laughter really can be the best medicine.
- Find what makes YOU laugh, no matter how insane.
- Find humor in the chaos… whenever you can. Spit up all over your face? Bahahaha!
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” – E. E. Cummings
Here’s to Sanity & Jimmy Fallon,