They say laughter is the best medicine. For a nurse in Longview, it's also the prescription for the best job. Junell Nichols is a certified Laughter Leader with Longview Regional Medical Center. She takes her skills to nursing homes and conferences around East Texas.
Junell puts on her oversized glasses and big nose for work today. Her job is to make a group of seniors at the Summer Meadows nursing home in Longview laugh. She starts with a hello and a great big chuckle. The happiness quickly spreads.
Junell was first approached with the idea of becoming a laughter leader several years ago and jumped at the chance. "I don't want to suffer from terminal seriousness. I have enough serious things going on in my life and in the world around me that I really wanted to bring some laughter in. The main thing is to laugh," says Junell.
Junell leads the group in several different types of laughing exercises, from the roller coaster laugh that goes up and down, to the deep Santa Claus.
The participants may feel a little silly, but they still love it. "I feel a little bit stupid, but I've done more stupid things," says nursing home resident, Ethel Cox.
"Laughter is cheap," says Junell. "It doesn't require any money, any time, any investment. We can do it with our friends, we can do it by ourselves."
All of this laughing isn't just fun, it's good for you. Junell says laughing helps strengthen your heart and your immune system.