Laugh yourself into a more healthy you.
March 19th was National Laughter day. Imagine that- a day dedicated just to laughter. I hope you took the time to find humor and laughter in your life on that day and to make it a habit thereafter.
As I am sure you may have heard it said, laughter is the best medicine. So go on and binge on that funny show on television, Rewatch that funny video on youtube or facebook over and over.
Better yet, call a friend and enjoy a belly shaking guffaw together, and even better than that go on and hang out with your best friend and enjoy laughter face to face.
Be in the same physical world. We have too much virtual existence if you want to know.
Get with that friend. You know her, the one you have known since you were teenagers and with whom everything is still funny when you meet, and you giggle and go on just like teenagers, perhaps now annoying your very own teenage children.
Laughter improves your mental health
Good old fashioned no -bars -hold laughter cleans the soul.
It is the best stress reliever there is. Seriously better than any medication for stress. (note though I am not advocating you stop taking your anxiety or depression medicine).
Why does it feel so good to laugh? A good belly laugh stimulates the release of endorphins- those good old feel-good hormones.
When you laugh your muscles vibrate and shake sort of like a good work out. Same concept. Exercise gives you that runners high making you feel floaty and light. Laughter does that. Yes! Just like running. Heck, a good laugh is quite a workout, with calorie expenditure to boot!
Not sure you can lose weight from it. But it does sure feel good to try. Just like exercise sometimes you even feel that soreness in your belly from the contraction of those muscles when you have laughed really hard. In this way, laughter relaxes your muscles thereby easing tension. Also when you laugh your stress hormones are sent packing.
Your stress hormones play havoc with the body including making a person fat. It is bad enough you are stressed, now you get fat and then you are stressed because maybe clothes just do not fit as well, or…, fill the gap with why that would be stressful.
I know, we all can benefit from less stress. So there is no time like the present to laugh more. Stress in the modern world is to the roof-What with everyone especially women trying to juggle everything and then some.
Immune health and laughter
According to Mayo Clinic, laughter has both mental and physical benefits. When you laugh, this action increases the flow of oxygen in circulation as your heart rate and blood pressure increase( in a good way).
Your lung capacity expands so you draw more oxygen. This benefits many organs and especially the brain. This increased available oxygen leads to an overall sense of ease and relaxation and sense of well being.
An added benefit of laughter is that as your stress hormones decrease, your immune cells increase, protecting you from disease in the long term. Therefore, you enjoy better health from something so easy and enjoyable as laughter!
Laughter as an antidote to pain
Laughter not only relaxes and relieves stress but may also alleviate pain. Now, if only there was a way to bring more laughter to those who suffer from chronic pain!
Studies show that laughter not only increases pain threshold helping people to tolerate pain but also found that while people are having a good belly aching guffaw, they tended to forget about the pain. Also, laughter stimulation of endorphins production is associated with pain reduction. We surely are wonderfully made as humans. Just think of it.
We make our very own opioids, the endogenous opioids which are released when we laugh. Laughter stimulates the Central nervous system opiate center to produce the brains own opioids leading to pain reduction. The effect is similar to your regular morphine, sans horrific constipation or the threat of respiratory suppression. So welcome that clown in PICU.
He may really do some good with that laughter. Welcome too that funny man visiting the hospital. And go on nurses talk and smile …find laughter with your patients. It may save you from those excessive call bells ringing for pain meds…which in turn causes you pain walking miles through those halls. Let’s all commit to finding more joy and laughter more often.
The human connection factor
We are social beings. We do better when we get together with those we love. There is just a great light feeling that comes over you when you get together with people you love people you laugh with.
Think about it. Sometimes laughing with a stranger can cement a bond of friendship. Laughter brings people together and binds people together. There is a way that humans, and I bet other animals can sense the feelings of another and that in turn influences how they feel. It is the same in laughter. It is infectious in a good way.
That’s why we smile when someone else smiles. Laughing together makes us feel connected and enhances our sense of well being and wholeness. So seek your friends out and have a good old belly laugh.
Laughter, memory, and longevity … can you live longer if you laugh more?
Maybe. We may not have the answer but we can have fun trying. But I say the possibility is there. If laughing has all these benefits, such as increasing your immunity, relieving stress, then a well and the stress-free person will be sick less.
A well socially anchored person is also healthier. A person whose circulatory system is primed for good blood flow good oxygenation will be stronger. Yes, there’s an even study that indicates that laughter can help one avoid dementia.
A study published in PubMed found that laughter improved memory and learning in older adults and stipulated that increased stress and increased cortisol production can damage the hippocampus neurons, and thus impair memory and leaning.
Laughter as research is showing, reduces stress and reduces cortisol, that pesky stress hormone.
And so if one can avoid dementia, and has improved immunity, it is likely that they may live a better life even a longer life, other factors considered. Let’s celebrate National laughter day every day by finding more joy, with a good guffaw of laughter. Go on find something funny, your mind and body will thank you.