“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”
― Robert Frost
When was the last time that you laughed until your tummy hurt or your eyes became teary while you laughed aloud? If you say that it happens everyday, that’s good news! However, if you rarely laugh that much, you should start finding ways to laugh more right now. Why? Because laughing has many health benefits. As we always say, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
In this article, I’ll share with you the top five reasons why laughter benefits your health and ways to bring more laughter into your life.
First, let’s find out what happens to your body when you laugh.
What happens when you laugh?
When you laugh, it feels good, right? However, laughter can do more than just boost your happy mood. It causes physiological changes in your body. It stretches the muscles in your face and even other parts of the body. Just imagine your body gestures when you’re laughing out loud. Laughing also increases your pulse rate, blood pressure and it makes you breathe faster, which all contribute in sending more oxygen to the different parts of the body. It is the same mechanism as when exercising.
Not only that! There are more health benefits than you can imagine.
Why laughter is beneficial to health?
Here are the top five reasons why bringing more laughter and humor in your life is a necessity.
The very first reason why you need to laugh more is that it can relieve stress.
- Laughter is an effective stress reliever
Laughter is indeed a powerful stress antidote. Observe your body and emotions after a good laugh. Does it make you feel good and relaxed? The truth is laughing can relieve stress and physical tension. It will help relax those tensed muscles, which help in reducing the physical signs and symptoms of stress such as muscle pain and tension headache. It makes you less anxious, sad or angry. It melts negative emotions.
In fact, in a pilot study conducted in Korea wherein a therapeutic laughter program was used as complementary therapy in cancer patients, the findings revealed that anxiety, depression and stress were decreased respectively in patients who were under the program.
Another benefit of introducing more laughter into your life is that it can strengthen your resistance against illnesses.
- Laughter boosts your immune function
The effect of laughter to your immune function has something to do with its ability to relieve stress. Every time you laugh, the level of your stress hormones decreases. In the study conducted at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, the level of stress hormones in the blood were measured after the individuals viewed a 1-hour funny video. The findings revealed that the serum levels of cortisol (stress hormone) decreased.
Stress hormones can actually suppress your immune function that is why you easily get sick when you are stressed out. Have you noticed that during stressful days, you may suddenly have flu symptoms like fever, cough, headache, runny nose and body pains? Then you will often think that it’s always a bad timing; you get sick whenever you needed to beat your deadline on some urgent matters. Actually, it wasn’t just a coincidence that you got sick. Stress weakened your immune function making you susceptible to flu and other illnesses.
Not only that! Aside from boosting your immune function, laughter can also help relieve your pain.
- Laughter helps ease your pain
It’s hard to laugh when you’re in pain. However, did you know that laughter could help reduce painful sensation? Laughter stimulates your body to release endorphins, a natural chemical that reduces your pain perception. In the results of the study “Humor as A Cognitive Technique for Increase Pain Tolerance” published in PubMed, it was indicated that individuals in a group who were shown a funny film have increased pain tolerance. Aside from increasing the endorphin level, laughter is also an effective distraction. It will divert your mind and will make you think less about the painful sensation.
Moreover, laughter can help you burn some calories.
- Laughter burns some calories
I’m not saying that you will lose half of your weight by merely laughing or you will immediately shed your belly fat with it. However, isn’t it a good habit that you feel better laughing out loud while silently burning some calories?
According to the study findings of Vanderbilt University headed by researcher Maciej Buchowski, genuine laughter can increase the energy expenditure up to 10-20%. In 10-15 minutes, you will burn around 10 calories. Let us say you watched a funny movie that is at least 1-hour duration. You will be burning 1/3 of the 28 grams of dark chocolate you’ve just eaten, which is around 56 calories.
Last but not the least among the health benefits of laughter is it can improve your mood.
- Laughter simply makes you feel better
There are two ways to deal with mood problems: let your bad mood ruin your day or laugh about it. I think you prefer choosing the latter, right? That’s the best choice by the way. No matter how terrible things could have been, no matter how difficult life is, as long as you find reasons to smile and laugh, everything will be fine soon. Laughter can always make you feel a little better, no matter how sad, upset or emotionally down you are.
In fact, a study was conducted in Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea wherein laughter therapy was used on cancer patients who were undergoing radiation therapy. The findings revealed that laughter therapy improved the mood and self-esteem of the subject patients.
Actually, laughter helps activate the brain chemical serotonin, which plays a major role in your mood. The serotonin level is often depleted in people with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Although laughter won’t treat depression and other mood disorders, it’s an effective supportive therapy to increase the serotonin level of a person.
To bring more laughter into your life, here are some tips for you!
How to bring more laughter into your life?
Tip #1: Indulge in funny activities. Make it a habit to watch funny movies or a sitcom and even read funny books. If you have a social media site like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, follow those users and pages that post funny stuff. Put some funny posters in your office and house or keep a cute toy in your car or desk, which you would see daily.
Tip #2: Socialize and keep funny people in your circle of friends. Laughter is contagious. Therefore, when people around you chuckle about many things, you will definitely find yourself laughing with them.
Tip #3: Find ways to be with kids, especially preschoolers and toddlers. They have the most innocent sense of humor. Well, I mean they are funny even if they don’t intend to nor try to. Their humor is just natural. If you don’t have kids at home, try visiting a public playground and observe silently. In a matter of time, you’ll find yourself smiling and laughing at many things that kids do: their clumsiness, their laugh and smile, and even with the way they talk with each other like they have their own world.
Tip #4: Find more techniques to relieve stress. Laughter is a great stress reliever but sometimes stress hinders you from finding reasons to laugh. Other relaxation and stress relieving techniques may include meditation, qigong and even yoga, particularly laughter yoga, which is popular these days.
Tip #5: Try aromatherapy. Many scents can help improve your mood and elicit a calming effect like the scent of lavender, frankincense, sandalwood and ylang ylang. Mostly, these scents are available as essential oils.
You may want to try emotional balancing oils for aromatherapy available at Beyond Good Health clinics and CHI Online store. The joy essential oil main ingredients are lavender, elemi, ylang ylang and tangerine. It is imprinted with bio-energy that improves mood and brings joy to your heart. [Click image to purchase the product online]
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