Laughter has long been regarded as a healing remedy of sorts. Laugher is not only beneficial for the soul, and one’s spirit, but laughter therapy is currently being utilized alongside traditional therapy and/or medication for those suffering from anxiety, and other depressive symptoms.
Since a person’s moods can ebb and flow while he/she rides the waves of life, even without an anxiety/depressive condition present, it is important to keep in mind the scientific benefits of laughing, or humor in general. The benefits below might give you a reason to smile today.
- Laughter can literally lighten moods. Humor benefits both emotional and physical health by boosting blood flow to the brain and increasing dopamine and endorphins, brain chemicals involved in depression and other mood disorders.
- It relieves and reduces stress hormone levels. Laughing releases brain chemicals that counter production of the stress hormone cortisol. Managing stress, particularly with laughter, helps people with depression control their symptoms and reduce their anxiety. By reducing the level of stress hormones, you’re simultaneously cutting the anxiety and stress that impacts your body.
- It helps you to develop better coping skills. Reframing your anxiety provoking thoughts, and seeing the humorous and human side of it side can help you cope positively with your present problems. When something doesn’t go according to your plan, or the timing of it is seemingly off, instead of slipping into a depressive and anxious state, think about how to turn the situation into a joke you can tell others later, or just yourself. Furthermore, when you rely on laughter as a means of coping, you ultimately rely less on other individuals for social support, thereby giving you a natural self-boost when you are feeling down.
- It triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. By laughing, you can release endorphins, which can help ease chronic pain, thereby making you feel better all over. That is perhaps one reason why laughter yoga has been quite popular these last few years.
- It lowers your blood pressure. People who lower their blood pressure by laughing, even those who start at normal levels, will reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack. Laughter can significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood-pressure levels. Laugher truly is the best medicine.
- It boosts T-cell production. T-cells are specialized immune system cells just waiting out in your body for some kind of activation. When you laugh, you activate T-cells that immediately begin to help you fight off sickness. Additionally, the reduction of stress hormones may result in higher immune system performance, which may translate to fewer illnesses and colds throughout the year! Add laughter to your illness prevention program.
- It produces a general sense of well-being. Laughter can increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to live longer, and fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative or pessimistic.
- It improves cardiac health. Laughter is a great cardio workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness, or those who do not like to exercise the traditional way. It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace. You might also get a mini workout out of it too! One of the benefits of laughter is that it can help you tone your abs. When you laugh, the muscles in your stomach contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs. You may want to consider adding laughter to your exercise routine, and make your exercise more enjoyable for you in the process.
With all of these wonderful reasons, you might want to give laughter a try, even if at first it feels forced. Once you’ve had your first laugh, genuine or not, take note of how you are feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense than they were before? Do you feel a bit more relaxed, or just more cheerful and alive? That’s the natural wonder of laughing at work, Mother Nature’s antidepressant. Hopefully this article makes you chuckle, a little anyways. So go ahead, and laugh your heart out into great health!