Today, I want to focus on just one gift that is a lovely idea for someone who is ill. Whether it is a family member or friend, whether they have cancer or some other chronic illness, or maybe it’s someone who finds the holidays especially hard, why not consider putting together a laughter box for them…  

So what is a laughter box?

A laughter box is a bit like a toy box. You find a ‘happy’ looking box of any size, and basically you fill it up with things that are fun and amusing and make you laugh. The idea is that you then give it to someone and when they are having a bad day or going for treatment, they can dip into the box and chose something that will lift their spirits.

Laughter is the best medicine

We’ve all heard the phrase that laughter is the best medicine – but is there really any  truth to it? Yes, it turns out that studies have shown the following health benefits of laughing:

  • Physical benefits of laughter
    • Boosts immunity
    • Lowers stress hormones
    • Decreases pain by triggering the release of endorphins
    • Relaxes your muscles
    • Enhances oxygen uptake
    • Stimulates heart and lungs
    • Balances blood pressure
  • Social benefits of laughter
    • Strengthens relationships
    • Attracts others to us
    • Enhances teamwork
    • Helps diffuse conflict
    • Promotes group bonding
  • Mental benefits of laughter
    • Adds joy and zest to life
    • Eases anxiety and fear
    • Relieves stress and tension
    • Improves mood
    • Enhances resilience
    • Improves sense of wellbeing
    • Improves sleep and relaxation

Looks like it’s something we should all be making time for! We all need a prescription for laughter.

Laughter box contents

What you put in the laughter box is totally up to you – and depends on what makes you laugh and what you think will make the recipient laugh. Here are some ideas for you to consider:

  • Books.
  • DVDs/movies – see my previous blog post on the benefits of movies.
  • Photos of you both having fun/laughing. Put it in a nice frame for them to display.
  • Magazines.
  • Cut out cartoons from newspapers that make you giggle.
  • Mementos of happy times – these can be little folded notes where you write about a memory, or something you held onto that reminds you of a certain day or activity.
  • Your (or their) favorite bar of chocolate/snack.
  • A voucher/ticket to a fun activity/event you can both go to together.
  • A morning at a laughter yoga class together. (Yes, there really is such a thing.)
  • A silly toy or gift.
  • Your favorite jokes.

The box is never done – you can keep adding things to it, once you’ve given it to your friend.

Other ideas

The laughter box often works well when you do it with a group of friends. For example, if you are all friends with someone going through cancer treatment over the holiday period, you could each put in a few items. Your friend will feel the love and laughter from you all. And if they are home and not feeling like doing much, they can dip in the box and find a cartoon that brings a chuckle, or watch a silly movie and laugh.

The laughter box gift idea works at any time of the year. Laughter is good year round!

Ruth BaillieRuth Baillie is originally from the UK and now lives most of the year in Northern California. She holds two Master’s degrees, one in Personalized Nutrition (distinction), and another in Health Psychology. She is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Certified Professional Cancer Coach, and Cancer Guide, and has undertaken considerable post-graduate studies in integrative naturopathic oncology. She is the author of “Choices in mind-body medicine for cancer patients in Sonoma County, California” and her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

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