Laughter really is the best medicine. I mean, we can see it all around us. We see children in the play area, running around laughing and smiling and living in the moment, while their parents sit on the side, full of the stresses of day-to-day life and only the occasional smile breaking their otherwise serious faces. People on their death beds often say they wish they had laughed more. Don’t be that person! We could all do with a bit more laughter… And you’re about to find out why! Here’s the 4-1-1.
Why Do We Laugh, Biologically?
Research suggests that laughter and humor help the human brain process conflict around us. The dopamine that is released in our brains when we find something funny makes us feel good. It releases tension, increases motivation, memory and attention and helps us process pain management.
So How, Exactly, Is Laughing Good For You?
Okay, so we all know that it feels good to laugh. When it comes down to the physical changes that occur in our brains, dopamine is released and can dissolve stress, relax and recharge us, and help relieve pain – a golden triangle of good feelings!
But, recent studies have shown that we might be healthier by laughing more often, too. It’s one of nature’s many medicines. And here are some reasons how…
1. Stress Reduction
As well as increasing dopamine and reducing stress, laughter also decreases the hormones which make us feel stressed in the first place: cortisol and epinephrine. These hormones also play a role in the immune system by making it less effective… So get rid of these nasties with a good dose of the giggles!
Talking of our immune systems…
Some studies have shown that the ability to use humour might be associated with higher levels of infection-busting antibodies in our bodies. In fact, there’s a whole field of study dedicated to this issue: psychoneuroimmunology. Don’t take my word for it – Google it!
3. Reducing Blood Pressure
There’s a reason that they call high blood pressure the “silent killer” – because most people don’t know they’ve got it. Laughter can help decrease it, and increase your lifespan. In fact, laughter is said to lower blood pressure as much as cutting out salt from your diet can… Awesome!
4. Increasing Blood Flow
Apparently, laughter causes the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate and expand, thus increasing blood flow. And if you don’t know it already, then take note: blood flow – your nutrient and oxygen delivery highway – is crucial for boosting your daily health and elevating your mood… So, increase yours today!
5. It’s A Workout!
When we laugh, we work out the muscles in our face and in our abdomen. And one minute of laughter is equal to about 10 minutes on the rowing machine… I know which one I’d prefer to do, don’t you?
And as if those weren’t good enough reasons for you…
6. It’s Attractive
It’s true – laughter makes you sexy! Smiling makes you appear more approachable and smiles and laughs are contagious, making others feel better too and making you more attractive to be around! This, in turn, will have a positive effect on your well-being. Double whammy!
So, why not create some more opportunities to laugh. If you need more laughter in your life, then seek it out! It’s something you won’t regret doing! Seek out a pet. Join a laughter yoga class. Watch a funny program. And if you can’t manage that, then fake it ‘til you make it; studies have shown that even if it’s forced, laughter still triggers the release of feel-good, healthy chemicals in the body!
The reality of modern life is this: stress will always be there. You can’t avoid it all the time. But, you can choose how to deal with it and laughter is an excellent and healthy way of coping with life’s ups and downs. So, get out there and put a smile on your face!
- Laughter is great for you, both physically and mentally.
- Stress is unavoidable, but you can learn to cope with it better
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