“Laughter is the best medicine.” We’ve all heard this phrase before and it’s been repeated for generations for good reason! In fact, research has unveiled that laughter really does serve as a great medicine to help your mental and physical health.
Whether it’s a big belly laugh or an uncontrollable giggle, laughter can affect our bodies and our minds in a multitude of beneficial ways. When we laugh, we stretch muscles throughout the face and neck, and sometimes even our bodies. Additionally, the pulse and blood pressure go up briefly, increasing oxygen to our tissues. Indeed, the benefits of a good, hearty belly laugh are similar to a light workout…including burning calories.
Feeling a chuckle coming on? Here’s why you should allow it to grow into a full-blown, “laugh until it hurts” belly laugh:
- Improves your immune system. Laughter strengthens the immune system by increasing infection-fighting antibodies, according to studies at Loma Linda University.
- Soothes tension in muscles. Laughter can stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, which helps reduce the physical symptoms of stress. Laughter also acts as a distraction, allowing a person to forget about physical pains.
- Increases blood flow. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen, stimulating the heart, lungs and muscles. It increases blood flow, which may help protect against heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Laughter can also trigger the release of endorphins, a feel-good chemical released by the brain creating a feeling of well-being and relieving stress and pain.
- Lowers stress. Laughter creates a relaxed feeling by heating up and then cooling down your stress response, which increases your heart rate and blood pressure. This reduces stress and improves your mood, leaving you feeling recharged and positive.
- Boosts self confidence. Laughter can make coping with difficult situations much easier. When you’re able to laugh at yourself instead of getting upset or putting yourself down, you are increasing your personal satisfaction, confidence and ultimate well-being.
- Strengthens relationships. Studies have shown that laughter can actually make you more attractive to your friends, loved ones and the opposite sex.
- Helps to defuse conflicts. In stressful conflicts, we often search for a right or wrong answer. Instead, try finding the humour in the situation, and you might realise that what you thought was a big issue was actually quite small in the grand scheme of things.
So here’s to digging out our best jokes and LOL!
Sources: Care2.com, Mayo Clinic, University of Kentucky