No Joke! Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

No Joke! Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it turns out a chuckle a day might be just as beneficial.

While a healthy sense of humor won’t cure every ailment that comes along, lots of scientific evidence shows laughing has both short- and long-term health benefits, particularly when it comes to stress relief.

“It may not seem like the easiest response when things are difficult, and yet laughter can be just as good a release of stress and tension as crying,” wrote general practitioner Dr. Radha Modgil on the iNews’ Wellbeing blog.

Laughter and physical health

From reducing pain to increasing relaxation, here are several ways in which laughter not only lifts your spirits but improves your physical and mental well-being, too.

  • Improves heart health. Laughter lowers your blood pressure as well as increasing your oxygen intake and heart rate. This leads to more oxygenated blood circulating in the body, which can improve heart function and lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Reduces stress. A hearty genuine laugh has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
  • Increases “feel-good” chemicals. Along with the reduction of those stress hormones, a good giggle increases the amount of endorphins released in the body. Endorphins help to combat stress and boost your mood.
  • Boosts your immune system. When you laugh, your body releases more disease-fighting T-cells into your bloodstream. So laughers have stronger immune systems than non-laughers.
  • Relaxes and strengthens your muscles. When we’re stressed, our bodies tense up. Laughter has not only been shown to strengthen abdominal muscles, but studies also show that it also leads to a relaxation of those muscles for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Relieves pain. Muscle relaxation combined with the increase of endorphins has been shown to help patients with chronic pain, both on a physical and mental level.
  • Improves your mental health. Laughter can improve symptoms related to depression and anxiety. It may also boost your self-confidence and zest for life.

No pill can give you all those benefits – and all it takes is just a few guffaws!

Add more laughter to your day

So, how do you inject more laughs into your day? Turn that frown upside-down with these sure-fire tactics.

  • Set an intention. Make a goal to laugh more in the same way you would set out to exercise more or eat better. Write it down and be intentional. Humor is a habit, so get serious about adding some silliness to your day.
  • Hang out with a funny friend. Got an acquaintance who is always telling jokes? Have a friend with whom you can reminisce about funny memories? Spend time with people you know will leave you in stitches with their funny quips, memories, or stories.
  • Try laughing yoga. That’s right, there’s a popular yoga movement that focuses on voluntary laughter. It is specifically designed to cultivate joy, bring out your inner child, and reduce stress. Search for a class online or an in-person one near you.
  • Indulge in your favorite funny entertainment. Is there a writer who always gets you LOLing? Got a favorite sitcom sure to give you a chuckle? Be sure to work some comedic entertainment into your week.
  • Read the funnies. Did you love reading comic strips or humor magazines as a kid? Get a subscription to your favorite old-school or modern-day comics. They’ll tickle your funny bone and offer up a fun dose of nostalgia.
  • Keep a laughter journal. It can feel like there’s a lot of doom and gloom in the world, but keeping a diary that highlights the funny parts of your day will lead to lots of lightheartedness. Becoming more aware of the humor and joy in your life may even lead to more of it.
  • Fake it ‘til you make it. Fake laughing leads to real laughing. Go ahead, try it. It feels ridiculous, but pretend laughter actually leads to the real kind. And even the simulated kind has lots of health benefits.

So make a point of adding more laughs to your life. It turns out it really is the best medicine!

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