Laughter is the best medicine. It is an excellent way to relieve stress. It not only lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, but by moving your facial muscles and smiling, the hormonal changes that occur within the brain results in a happy mood. Laughter also produces physical changes that are healthy for the body. Together, humor and laughter reduce pain, boost energy, strengthen immunity, and provide protection against the negative effects of stress.
Researchers have been studying the health benefits of laughter for quite some time and their research has produced strong evidence that laughter is good for us. A study from Loma Linda University in California found that watching funny videos improved memory and reduced the levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) in the body. A study from the University of Maryland found that a sense of humor can protect against heart disease. Another study showed that those who laugh more have higher levels of natural killer cell activity, which increases the ability to fight off disease. And a study from Japan found that laughter could improve anti-inflammatory factors in the blood of people who have rheumatoid arthritis.
Laughter is good for your overall health. It benefits you in many ways including physically, mentally, and socially. Let’s take a look at how laughter can benefit our health and overall well-being.
• Provides protection for the heart. Laughter increases the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow. This can help lower your risk for having a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problems.
• Increases immunity. Laughter increases the amount of immune cells and antibodies that fight off bacteria and infections. It also decreases the amount of stress hormones produced by the body. Together, these help improve the body’s ability to fight infections and illness and resistance to disease.
• Allows the body to relax. Laughing is a great natural stress reliever. It can also relieve any physical tension a person may be feeling. This allows the muscles in the body to relax, providing an overall sense of relaxation.
• Promotes the production of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals. These generate a natural feeling of happiness and can even temporarily relieve pain.
• Can help burn calories. A Vanderbilt University study estimated that just 10-15 minutes of laughter a day can burn up to 40 calories.
The key take away here is simple: laugh more. It makes you feel good, and is good for you. So get as much of it as you can. You can get more laughter and humor in your life by smiling more, being around positive people who like to laugh, being more spontaneous, letting go of any social fears you may have, and participating in more fun activities in life. In negative situations, be that person who searches for anything that can lighten up the mood. Always remember to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously. A good way to remember this is to surround yourself with reminders to always keep the mood light and fun.