Laughter is the Best Medicine
It turns out there is scientific evidence for this saying.
Laughter decreases stress, improves your mood, and makes you more resilient. Laughter is also good for your relationships. Laughter serves as a powerful tool and safety valve for dealing with conflict and reducing tension when emotions are running high.
Here are some of the scientific benefits of laughter and humor. Laughter can:
- Relieve pain. Laughter causes the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Improve your mood and decrease depression and anxiety. Laughing with others releases endorphins, natural substances that make you feel better and happier. Laughter can lessen depression and anxiety.
- Brings people closer together. Laughter binds people together. It’s contagious. Couples who laugh together report having better relationships.
- New perspective. Studies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a threat or a challenge. Humor can give us a new perspective and help us view the situation as a challenge and thus less threatening. It can help one reframe a problem.
- Reduce tension and cortisol. A hearty laugh stimulates circulation and muscle relaxation. This helps reduce the physical symptoms of stress. According to Professor Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at University College, London who studies laughter…"laughter can decrease the body's production of cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands into the bloodstream at times of stress. High levels of cortisol have been linked to weight gain and memory loss.”
- Improve your immune system. “Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more--serious illnesses.”(Mayoclinic.org)
- Increase resilience. A sense of humor can help one bounce back from adversity. Laughing at our mistakes helps us to recognize making errors is part of life.
Ways to bring humor and laughter into your daily life
- Find items that make you smile or chuckle. Read the daily comic strips or read online joke websites. Place or hang items, such as comic strips, photos or greeting cards in your home or office. Make a list of comedies, funny books or online videos to have on hand when you need a boost of humor. Listen to your favorite comedian. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
- Share laughter with friends. Spend time with people who make you laugh and are fun people. Browse through joke books or online jokes and find jokes to share with friends.
- Focus on finding laughable moments in your day. Look for the humor in difficult situations. Find a way to laugh about your situation and notice the decrease of tension in your body.
- Consider Laughter Yoga classes. In "laughter yoga" people practice laughter as a group. It feels awkward at first, but soon the laughter becomes spontaneous and contagious.
- Know what is not funny. Some forms of humor are inappropriate. Never laugh at the expense of others-- laugh with people-- not at people.
- Laugh at least once a day. You cannot overdose. I invite you to try. Smile- it’s the beginning of laughter. Think of something funny. Give a laugh even if it feels unnatural. Notice how you feel.
“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” Phyllis Diller
“You don't stop laughing because you grow older. You grow older because you stop laughing.” Maurice Chevalier