By Genie Joseph, Contributing Writer, Hawaii Army Weekly, U.S. Army Garrison-HawaiiNovember 17, 2011
HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Laughter is the best medicine.
We know that intuitively, and many studies have confirmed the benefits of laughter for physical and emotional well-being.
Laughter is an excellent intervention for people struggling with stress and trauma.
Traumatized brains get stuck in the hyper-vigilant, hyper-aroused nervous system. Laughter and other right-brain activities "reset" and re-balance the brain.
A training program called Act Resilient uses laughter, improvisational comedy and theater games, which help the individual to think clearly and respond quickly, based on the present moment instead of being sucked back into the past.
"I feel like I'm learning how to run my own brain again, instead of my memories running me," said one Soldier who attended the Act Resilient training.
Another Soldier said, "I feel like I got my life back." And, his wife said, "I got my husband back. Thank you!"
Learning how to use your imagination for fun -- instead of letting your imagination run wild --is just one of the healing methods in the Act Resilient Program.
"Act Resilient is one of the more effective and creative programs I have seen in helping Soldiers manage their symptoms of (post-traumatic stress disorder)," said Dr. Mitzi Gold, a psychologist in private practice who works with all branches of the military in Hawaii.
Whether it's day-to-day stress or the most severe cases of combat and operational stress, anyone can benefit from relearning how to play.
Act Resilient uses specific games designed to teach the brain how to send "active memories" into the "inactive file." Memories that are in the inactive portion of the brain can thus become "unhooked" from the active-replay mode.
Participants in Act Resilient learn a number of self-help treatment techniques that reduce or eliminate stress in minutes.
The playful theater and improvisation games in Act Resilient are designed to re-connect parts of the brain that are "frozen." By playing improvisational games that cause a crossover from left to right brain, all sections of the brain begin working as an integrated whole.
The brain literally begins to co-operate with itself, which allows people to be more in control of their impulses, emotions, thoughts, feelings, moods and decisions.
All of this healing happens while laughing, being silly and generally having a great time.
All active duty, veterans and spouses are invited to attend a free introduction to Act Resilient, 1-2:30 p.m. and 3-4:30 p.m., Nov. 21, Kalakaua Community Center, 2535 Waianae Uka Ave., Schofield Barracks. To reserve your spot, search for Act Resilient at Facebook or email Genie@GenieJoseph.com.