Releasing the Dolphins: The Effect of Laughter on Greif and Stress

Introduction

To start things off here is a short video from Ellen Degeneres about how laughing is good for the brain.

Ellen DeGeneres once said “If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that”. We as humans live in a world where bad things can and do happen every day. We can’t control what happens all we can do is adapt to what happens, and overcome our hardships. How do we do that though? How do we adapt when the people who are supposed to protect us hurt us? How do we adapt when a loved one struggles with an addiction? How do we adapt when a loved one dies? How do we deal with that loss and grief?

In this blog, I will begin by talking about how deaths from addiction are different than other causes of death. From there I will talk about loss, grief, stress and the healing process. Then I will move on to talking about the idea of releasing the dolphins, and how humor and laughing like a five-year-old is key to the healing process. Finally, I will end by summarizing the key points.

Death by Addiction

Losing a loved one, as a result of additction, is a different type of loss for families to deal with. When individuals die from other illnesses there are answers available, and their death is socially accepted. However, when an individual dies as a result of an addiction there are a lot of unanswered questions and toxic feelings. Family members that are left behind feel shame, guilt, anger, relief, the stigma associated with their loved one’s drug use, and these things can worsen the trauma the family has already gone through (Vadino, 2017). When an individual who was addicted to drugs dies of an overdose people tend to be less compassionate, and the family feels a great deal of guilt and shame (Vadino, 2017). Parents of the individual with the addiction are often blamed and met with messages telling them that they do not have the right to grieve. (Vadino, 2017). People in the community are very quick to judge and often don’t recognize that addiction is an illness and that individuals addicted to substances don’t want to be addicted. When you are met with these challenging times in your life it is important to remember that you have to work through your grief and stress to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Greif, Stress and the Healing Process

Greif

Greif is a feeling that is brought on by a loss, it is individual and personal (Vadino, 2017). Greif is not something that occurs once and you are done with it, it is a process that can be long and grueling, but it is a necessary process (Vadino, 2017). Greif has five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and to fully deal with your grief you have to work through each one of those stages (Vadino, 2017). The important thing that you should remember as you are grieving and working through that process is that there is no one right way to grieve, everyone grieves differently (Vadino, 2017). If you don’t fully deal with your grief it can reappear and lead to depression. Lastly, with grief comes a great amount of complexity, you may need to seek console from a therapist, or a support group (Vadino, 2017). One thing that can be just as damaging as grief is stress.

Stress

Stress is a natural, unavoidable response to some form of stimuli in an individual’s environment (Vadino, 2017). Usually when an individual becomes stressed it is the result of a change that we believe is greater than us, one that exceeds our control. So we keep building up this stress, and we give it power, and it gets to the point where stress begins interfering with our daily routines causing anxiety, depression and physical illness (Vadino, 2017). So it is important to find ways to deal with that stress. The first thing that you need to do is figure out what your natural stress level is because all stress isn’t bad stress (Vadino, 2017). Next, stress can really impact an individual so you want to build a strong support group of people who can help take care of you in situations where you are completely overwhelmed by life (Vadino, 2017). The last thing to do is to take care of yourself, eat healthily, exercise and make sure you are getting a good amount of rest (Vadino, 2017). When we go through life we tend to get caught up in a routine, and we live by the clock, so we lose touch with our inner 5-year-old selves. If we are going to get over grief and stress we need to release the dolphins and embrace the laughter.

Releasing the Dolphins

Karen at one point in her presentation talks about how dolphins always have smiles on their faces, and how aside from humans they are among the only other animals to do all of these amazing things and help each other. She went on to have us move our heads back and forth and asked us if we had any water in our heads and when we said no she said that that was bad because the dolphins couldn’t survive without water. What Karen was really talking about here was releasing endorphins and using the power of laughter to overcome grief and stress. She said that we need to get in touch with our five-year-old selves and laugh how they would laugh. The biggest take away that I got from this is that life doesn’t always have to be serious the grieving process can have fun integrated into it. You can let that inner five-year-old out every once and a while.

Conclusion

We all have things in our lives that greatly impact us, when those things happen, or we experience change we have to remember that it is natural and that we are strong enough to deal with those things. Everyone grieves and deals with stress in their own way but it is important to remember to ask for help when things become too complex. Lastly, don’t be afraid to embrace your inner child and use tools such as humor and laughter to deal with things happening in your life.

References

Vadino, K. (2017). Loss and Grief: Complicated by Addiction [Lecture]. Retrieved 7/13/2017

Vadino, K. (2017). All Stressed Up and No One To Choke [Lecture]. Retrieved 7/13/2017

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