How I Find Laughter in the Face of MS

By Alene Brennan

Incurable. Degenerative. Chronic. The weight of the words is heavy. The reality of living with them is even heavier. We can easily sink into the quicksand of worries and struggles or… we can find acceptance in this beast of a disease and sprinkle in a heavy dose of laughter.

Laughter is Medicine

We hear it often that laughter is the best medicine, but what actually happens when we laugh? And is laughter strong enough to take on MS?

According to WebMD, “We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.”

The benefits are impressive:

  • Boost immunity
  • Decreases pain
  • Relieves stress
  • Elevate mood
  • Increases Resilience

The resiliency is what catches my attention the most. Because living with a chronic illness can wear on you, right? Resiliency – the internal motivation to overcome challenges and life’s adversities – is essential to living beyond your MS diagnosis.

It’s the ability to find acceptance and yes, maybe even some humor, in the not-so-glamorous moments of MS.

Around-the-Clock Laughter

The best part of laughter is that it’s free and if you know where to look, it’s always available to you. You can get a mood-boosting laugh in a just a few seconds or throughout an entire day.

Here are my go-to laughter-filled moments that keep me smiling in the face of MS.

30 Seconds: MS Memes
One of the many reasons I love Instagram is for the MS Memes. The images and quotes are always on point in describing what it’s like to live with MS. It’s validating, it’s laughable and it’s comforting knowing that others “get it,” even when those around you may not. I always get a good laugh in just scrolling through a few memes. If you’re not yet on Instagram, join me over there (I’m at @abrenn). The MS community on Instagram is dynamite!

30 Minutes: Talk with a child.
Children are playful, not afraid to be ridiculous and laugh so easily. Not to mention their laughter is the most contagious. So, if you have children in your life allow them to bring out the inner child (and laughter) in you. It’s nourishing and healing.

1 Hour: Exercise
I love to exercise, I always have. But it has to be fun – it’s a non-negotiable in my book. I like community, good music, and most of all, laughter. That combo will have me primed for a good sweat session, which often starts my day at 6 am. I make the modifications I need to always honor my body and my energy levels, but it’s the laughter throughout the workout that fuels me for the day and the long road of managing MS. (Get yourself a workout buddy or trainer with a good sense of humor, it’s good for your health!)

All-Dayer: Netflix Binge of The Office Reruns
On the days that the fatigue is getting the best of me, cause let’s be honest when it strikes, its humbling, I binge on reruns of The Office. A ridiculous Dwight Shrute moment – of which there are many – is sure to get me laughing. And the best part is, it’s often a struggle to stay awake for a single episode so the binge-fest outlasts the fatigue. Watch. Nap. Wake & Rewind. Repeat.

What helps brings laughter in your day? Let us know so we can join in the humor… and healing.

*Alene Brennan works with individuals living with MS and other autoimmune diseases to create a diet and lifestyle that will support their healing and disease management. She holds four certifications: nutrition coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and natural food chef. You can learn more about her work and follow her blog, recipes, and more at www.alenebrennan.com. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook, too!

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About MSAA

As a national nonprofit organization, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a toll-free Helpline; award-winning publications including a magazine, The Motivator; website featuring educational videos and research updates; S.E.A.R.C.H.™ program to assist the MS community with learning about different treatment choices; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; a resource database, My MS Resource Locator; equipment distribution ranging from grab bars to wheelchairs; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; educational events and activities; MRI funding and insurance advocacy; and more. For additional information, please visit http://www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

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