Laughter is a powerful (and free!) medicine that you’re not taking enough of. Sharing a genuine laugh with a friend or co-worker can be enough to brighten our day, no matter how down-and-out we feel. Laughter is a stress-reducer, immunity-booster, heart-helper, and confidence-builder. Read on to learn more about the surprising benefits of humor.
The health benefits of laughter include the reduction of stress hormones and blood pressure, as well as increased blood flow and oxygenation to the cells and organs. Laughing provides a natural workout for a number of muscle groups, can defend against illness, and even increase the response of beneficial tumor and disease-killing cells throughout the body. Laughter has also been shown to increase memory, intelligence, and creativity.
When it comes to self managed health and wellbeing laughter is difficult to beat.
Laughter is our most basic emotional responses, but we aren’t taught to laugh or even to smile; they’re as natural to us as breathing.
Laughter is clinically proven to have a powerful and positive effect on physical, emotional and social health and wellbeing. It heals and renews the human body and mind, and nothing works faster or more dependably to bring the mind and body back into balance.
Happily there is growing interest in laughter as a simple and effective health and wellbeing strategy, although it’s still a much underutilized health and wellbeing resource.
They say that laughter is “the best medicine,” and as it turns out, there is some scientific truth to this assertion. Humor-associated laughter has numerous health benefits, so here are 10 reasons you should laugh it up.
10 Surprising Benefits Of Laughter You Need To Know
1.Regulates Blood Pressure
For anyone with high blood pressure, try to laugh more and watch your blood pressure decrease. Studies have shown that “mirthful laughter” causes an initial increase in arterial blood pressure due to the physical act of laughing, but that rise is followed by a decrease to below the normal resting blood pressure. This is further proof that laughter does indeed improve circulation and can reduce blood pressure, which is one of the major causes of heart disease and cardiac issues for many people.
2. Laughter makes you feel better.
“Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.” — Charlie Chaplin
Have you ever been super stressed at work or school, maybe because everyone is being mean today or you have an exam coming up that you’re not even close to ready for, but then a friend told you a hilarious joke or story that made you laugh so hard you almost wet yourself? It is amazing how much better an explosive laugh can make us feel, especially if it’s totally out of the blue!
3. Laughter helps you stress less.
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” — Kurt Vonnegut
Have you ever been so frustrated with your day that you wanted to curl up in a ball and cry? I doubt anyone can honestly say, “No,” to that question because we’ve all been there, but why not laugh instead? How happy you are in life has less to do with how you act than it does how you react (and your reaction is always a choice, so keep it positive).
Along with the improved brain function that laughter can provide, it can also work to improve memory in a different way. The connections and associations that the brain forms while “learning” can be widened and made more complex by combining basic learning with an emotional response like laughter or humor. By varying the levels of association with different parts of our brain (pleasure, amusement, logic, reason, etc.) remembering facts and recalling details is easier because there are more linkages present in our memory.
5. Laughter promotes heart health.
“A sense of humor … is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.” — Hugh Sidey
Laughter reduces blood pressure and improves blood flow, which will in turn reduce your odds of suffering a stroke or heart attack.
6. Laughter can help you get through difficult times.
“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” — Bill Cosby
All of life’s junk — break-ups, bad days, car accidents, family drama, relationship problems, you name it — seem worse while we’re dealing with them in real-time than they are in the Big Picture. Keep the events of every day in perspective by asking yourself the question, “Is this really a big deal in the grand scheme of things?” If the source of stress isn’t something you’ll remember next week/month/year, lighten up. Search for the humor or irony in the situation and laugh it off. Smile (because you deserve to be happy)!
7. YOU BREATHE BETTER AFTER LAUGHING.
8. LAUGHTER CALMS STRESS HORMONES.
Humor, and by extension, laughter, stimulates multiple physiological systems that decrease levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, and increase the activation of the dopamine-dispensing reward system of the brain, according to researchers of a 2017 study in Advances in Physiology Education. A 2003 study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that viewing a funny film decreased a wide variety of stress hormones.
9. LAUGHING BURNS CALORIES.
As if all of these benefits aren’t a good enough reason to giggle every day, a 2014 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that laughter can burn calories. Researchers broke a group of 45 participants into two groups, half of whom watched film clips intended to evoke laughter for approximately 10 minutes, and half who watched film clips unlikely to stimulate laughter. Both groups were attached to a “calorimeter” that measured energy expenditure and heart rate. They determined that those who laughed during their viewing burned up to 10 calories in 10 minutes, as compared to those who did not laugh and did not burn any calories.
10. LAUGHTER MAY ACT AS A NATURAL ANTI-DEPRESSANT.
While nobody would recommend laughter in lieu of other treatment for depression, it has shown promise at ameliorating depressed moods. Patients in long-term care facilities often suffer from depression and poor sleep, so a 2017 study in the Korean Journal of Adult Nursing [PDF] tested the effects of laughter therapy on 42 residents of two long-term care hospitals. The results were promising.
The laugher therapy, which the subjects undertook over eight sessions, for 40 minutes twice a week, included “singing funny songs, laughing for diversion, stretching, playing with hands and dance routines, laughing exercises, healthy clapping, and laughing aloud.”
The results showed reduced depression and general mood improvement as well as improved sleep in the experiment group compared to the control group.
Another 2015 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that three 60-minute laughter therapy sessions improved the depression and negative mood states of cancer patients.