Laughter is the best medicine

21 December 2018 | Health

Henriette Lamprecht – It’s contagious and good medicine – not only for the body, but for the mind and soul as well. It lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others and helps to release anger.

Enter Namibia’s hospital clown, Jana Marie Tors, who uses laughter, fun and humour to add all the colours of the rainbow to sick children’s lives.

Her favourite song is probably "Don't worry, be happy", says Jana.

“Life is just too short to take everything seriously all the time!”

Graduating from drama school in Berlin in 2012, Jana has been working as a stage, film and television actress in Germany.

Doing everything from voice overs to hosting radio shows and writing comedy, it’s Jana’s job as a qualified(?) hospital clown that brings warmth and laughter to children when they need it most.

“Health starts with a smile,” says Jana.

“Laughter helps activate the self-healing process. That’s why the visits of hospital clowns are especially important to hospitalised children,” she explains.

According to Jana, clowns brighten up a stressful and unfamiliar environment for the little patients.

When the door swings open and clowns enter the room, not only is distraction provided, but humour, optimism and joy is added to the lives of sick children and their families.

“Music, play and laughter are the best additions to medicine!”

As owner of the Fun Factory and being involved with Clowns without Borders, Jana hopes to establish clown care units in Namibia with weekly visits of a clown duo to the children's wards to “bring sick children positivity through laughter and play”.

Also part of her and the Fun Factory’s repertoire are visits to orphanages and shelters in townships.

“Laughter is an instant holiday. Some of these children are living in extreme poverty, or have lost their parents, while others were abandoned or have experienced domestic violence and abuse,” Jana explains.

“Their story is tougher than most of us can ever imagine, but they are still children. No child deserves a life without laughter and joy. Children in crisis especially need hope and distraction.”

Clowns, with their curious and optimistic attitude, are able to brighten the situation.

“The positive effects of the feeling during the show will linger on even after the clowns have packed their bags again.”

Perhaps the last word on the healing power of laughter is best said by Patch Adams, American physician, founder of the Gesundheit! Institute and famous hospital clown: “Being happy is the best cure for all diseases!”

*Clowns without Borders is an international, independent and non-profit association without any affiliations to religious or political organisations. It has 15 operational chapters throughout the world, sharing one common goal: offering joy and laughter to relieve the suffering of all people – especially children who live in areas of crisis, including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in emergency situations.

It started in 1993 in Spain when Tortell Poltrona, a clown from Spain, was asked by the children at a school in Barcelona to go to the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia to perform for refugee children.

The children in Barcelona raised funds to send Tortell to Croatia after refugees in the Istrian Peninsula wrote to them: “You know what we miss most? We miss laughter, to have fun, to enjoy ourselves.”

On that first project Tortell performed to 4 000 children in Croatian refugee camps. It was the beginning of “Payasos Sin Fronteras” (Clowns without Borders, Spain).

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Benefits of laughter:

A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. It decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Laughter protects the heart.

Laughter burns calories.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load.

Laughter may even improve longevity.

Laughter improves mental vitality.

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*43 muscles - Some claim it takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 to smile, but open Aunt Milda's chain letter and you might be surprised to learn it takes 26 to smile and 62 to frown.

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