Especially for smokers – Are you an Angry Smoker? If so, it’s why you may have trouble quitting. Maybe you need to laugh more.
Some researchers think that smokers who want to quit (and that’s almost everybody) could be helped by taking anger management lessons, because nicotine affects the part of the brain responsible for emotion and smokers who can’t quit may be more prone to anger than nonsmokers.
When two groups of people were given a stimulus designed to provoke anger, the ones NOT wearing nicotine patches had the most aggressive reactions. BBC News quotes researcher Jean Gehricke as saying, “Novel behavioral treatments like anger management training may aid smoking cessation efforts in anger-provoking situations that increase withdrawal and tobacco cravings.”
Researchers have been investigating the connection between the body, mind and spirit for over 20 years. The idea that our emotions have a role in maintaining health and preventing disease originated with the experiences of a layman, Norman Cousins. In the 1970s, Cousinswas diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. He theorized that if stress could worsen his condition, as some evidence suggested at the time, then positive emotions could improve his health. As a result, he prescribed laughter for himself, and it worked!
With the approval of his doctor, he watched a regimen of humorous videos. Ultimately, the disease went into remission and Cousins wrote a paper that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine as well as a book about his experience, which became a best seller.
The unscientific foundation that was laid down by Cousins was taken up by many medical researchers including the academic medical researcher Dr. Lee Berk in the l980s. In earlier work, Berk and his colleagues discovered that the anticipation of “mirthful laughter” had surprising and significant effects. Endorphins (the chemicals that elevate mood) and human growth hormone (which helps build up the immune system) increased by 27% and 87 % in study subjects who watched a funny video.
Berk says, “The best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope. Lifestyle choices have a significant impact on health and disease and these are choices which we and the patient exercise control relative to prevention and treatment.”
In other words, to stay healthy, laugh plenty.
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