1. Health
Trisha Torrey

Laughter Might Be the Best Medicine, But Try Art and Music, Too

By September 5, 2012

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My friend and colleague, Dr. Lynn Eldredge, About.com's Guide to Lung Cancer, has just weathered a cancer storm of her own - breast cancer - for which she has undergone treatment for over a year, and is just now beginning to struggle back to her feet. Any person who has been diagnosed and treated for cancer understands the struggle. It's the fight of one's life.

So when Lynn shared this blog post a few days ago, I wanted to share it with you, too. Not just for cancer patients, but for anyone who has faced difficult symptoms, the shock and horror of diagnosis, and then begun treatment for any sort of difficult diagnosis....

Lynn's post, Watercolor Painting and Cancer Healing is a reflection on her own experience with art therapy used as part of her treatment for her cancer.

The connection of mind and body, and its effect on our health, has long been recognized, although it's not truly understood. Both positive and negative can result. We can make ourselves feel physically ill just through thinking about symptoms. We can help ourselves manage pain through adjusting our thought patterns, too. The connection is used to explain everything from miracle cures to a doctor's verdict that "it's all in your head."

Creativity, of course, is in the mind. Your hands and fingers can't be creative unless your brain propels them. If you can move your brain toward healing thoughts - and paint them on a canvas (or watercolor paper, or even a wall!) then yes, such therapy can be not only delightful, but useful and effective.

Music can be used the same way, affecting parts of our brains as we process it. Music therapy may help someone with physical limitations move more freely. Or, as in my mother's case, it can move Alzheimer's patients to be more content, even to put smiles on their faces. I'll never forget the years that went by when Mom didn't recognize her children or grandchildren - but she could remember, and sing along with, all the words to music of her youth, from the 1940s and 1950s.

And then, there's laughter. Laughter has long been called, "the best medicine." There's nothing more mind-and-body than laughter!

If you are struggling with your physical health, then take a page from this book. Look for art therapy classes in your area. Or listen to the music you used to enjoy during happier times. Read a funny book, or ask friends to tell you their favorite jokes - or tell some jokes yourself!

See if some "mind medicine" improves your day. Because if it does, it will improve your quality of life, too.

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Agree? Disagree?
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