Did you know that the body doesn’t distinguish between real laughter and fake laughter? There is truth to the statement fake it until you make it!
Laughter is often called “the best medicine,” and while that may not be accurate in the truest sense of the word, it does have many health benefits. In fact, research has shown that the health benefits of laughter are far-reaching. Studies so far have shown that laughter can help relieve pain, bring greater happiness, relieve stress and even support the immune system. Laughing, like crying, is a good way to eliminate toxins from the body but it’s much more fun!
Laughter is regulated by the brain, and since the mind and body are connected, you use an amazing amount of muscles when you laugh. Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough laughter in their lives. One study suggests that healthy children may laugh as much as 400 times per day, while most adults only tend to laugh about 15 times per day. Regardless, I think we all could use more laughter in our lives, plus it’s free, convenient and contagious! So even if there’s nothing to laugh about, you can trick the brain and body into thinking there is and still reap the same benefits as if you’re laughing at something funny.
What Laughter Does for Your Body
- Reduces stress and depression. Laughter lowers anxiety and irritation and provides a feeling of well-being, as well as reducing the level of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine. Further, it increases the health-enhancing hormones like endorphins.
- Improves breathing. A good belly laugh empties your lungs and causes a cleansing effect similar to deep breathing exercises.
- Relieves pain. Laughter can distract you from everyday aches and pains and can increase pain tolerance by as much as 10 percent through the release of endorphins, similar to a “natural high.”
- Boosts your immune system. A good giggle increases the number of anti-body producing T-cells, making us less likely to get coughs and colds.
- Improves relationships. Laughter elevates your mood, as well as the mood of those around you…and it’s contagious! Laughing together can increase the quality of social interactions, leading to more happiness and better relationships.
- Provides an internal workout. A good laugh exercises the diaphragm, works out the shoulders, contracts the abs and provides stimulus for the heart. People who laugh more may have lower blood pressure than the average person. When laughing, the blood pressure increases at first, then drops to levels slightly below “normal.”
- Provides a physical and emotional release. Laughter distracts us from negative feelings like anger and guilt. Have you ever had the feeling that if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry? Laughter can provide a cleansing feeling that leaves you refreshed, rather than stressed.
- Benefits the brain. Laughter increases blood flow and oxygenation of the blood, which in turn benefits the brain. Better brain function increases memory and learning. A Johns Hopkins University Medical School study showed that humor used during instruction resulted in higher test scores.
Find Humor in Your Life
We all have frustrations and situations that are difficult to deal with. Our response to stressful events can be changed depending on whether we view the situation as a threat or as a challenge. Using humor to view things with a more lighthearted perspective makes them less threatening and more positive, so instead of complaining about life’s frustrations, try to laugh about them.
With an attitude more focused on viewing difficulties as a challenge rather than a threat, we’re more able to find something to laugh about. For the sake of your health, let’s learn to laugh more. Your healthiest self will thank you.
What makes you laugh?