Laughter is more than just an enjoyable activity. It is very beneficial to the body and mind. It doesn’t cost a cent and it is highly contagious. But is laughter really the best medicine? Read on and decide for yourself.
Everyone enjoys a good laugh, don’t they? If they don’t, they should! Laughter has many benefits, which in turn have positive effects on the human body. Laughter lowers blood pressure, activates the immune system, triggers the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), reduces stress hormones, helps reduce pain, allows muscles to relax and is helpful for breathing as frequent laughter empties the air of lungs. And that’s just the beginning!
Laughter as therapy
More and more doctors are prescribing laughter therapy for patients feeling the stress of day-to-day life. Humour is a universally recognised language- people speak in every corner of the world. Laughter is rejuvenating to mind, body and soul. It sparks creative thoughts, and it is useful in maintaining healthy relationships with others. The best thing of all is that laughter is contagious so by all means, pass it on! It costs nothing, and people have never found any adverse side effects from laughing (or even laughing too much).
Could laughter be the best medicine?
Doctors, patients and healthcare professionals alike are all catching on to the concept that laughter might very well be the best medicine for whatever ails. They believe that laughter should come naturally to everyone, much as a smile does. And if it is our nature to laugh, we should do so, often.
Benefits of laughter
So what are the benefits of laughing? There are many. Let’s take a look at the physical benefits of having an honest to goodness belly laugh.
Laughter is good for the circulatory system
Laughter is indeed perfect for the heart. It increases circulation and improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues throughout the body. Humour is known to lower blood pressure (and for reasons that escape even the most trained medical experts, women seem to benefit even more so from constant laughing than do men).
People think the laugh is like exercise for the heart and they take it as “internal jogging.” Laughter helps strengthen the body’s most massive muscle, the heart, and is particularly useful for those who are not able to get up and walk, jog or do other kinds of cardiac exercises on a regular basis.
Laughter helps the immune system work more effectively
Laughter aids the immune system is doing its job correctly. It increases the number and activity level of natural killer cells that attack virally infected cells and a variety of kinds of both a tumour and cancer cells.
Laughter also encourages an increase in activated T cells (T lymphocytes), which often lie dormant until something awakens them to action. Laughter works well in this role.
Laughter is good for the respiratory system
Respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and frequent head colds are warded off easier by frequent laughter as it increases the concentration of immunoglobulin A in saliva. Laugh is good for the lungs overall as it provides an aerobic workout for the diaphragm. Laughter empties the lungs of more air than they take in which results in a cleansing effect in much the same way that an act of deep breathing does. It yields excellent therapeutic benefits for people who suffer from emphysema and sinus problems.
Reduction in stress hormones
Some neuroendocrine hormones in the body are activated when the body is under a great deal of stress. These hormones cause blood vessels to constrict in response to the pressure as well as begin to suppress the activity of the immune system. Laughter plays a role in reducing at least four of these stress hormones. They include cortisol, dopac, epinephrine and growth hormone.
Control of pain
Laughter plays a tremendous role in controlling pain as well as the fact that it raises the level of certain brain chemicals, in particular, that of endorphins (as previously mentioned these are the body’s natural painkillers). Another critical role laughter plays in the decrease of dopamine levels. Dopamine is a part of the “fight or flight response” of the body and is connected to the elevation of blood pressure when danger is perceived to be imminent.
Reduction of pain
Laughter also helps in the decrease in pain as it provides a distraction and many doctors believe that it can help the healing process run more smoothly and rapidly. After all, who doesn’t want to forget that they are suffering from pain? Laughter allows a person, young or old, to momentarily cast aside thoughts of aches, pains, stiffness in joints, upcoming tests or surgery, etc. and allows relaxation to flood the body.
Laughter relaxes all muscles in the body
Muscles throughout the body need a break just like any other part. They often work overtime. When an individual gives in to a hearty laugh, muscles get the opportunity to take a breather from work. Any tissue that does not take part in the laughter can relax fully at this time. But the muscles used in the laugh are also able to rest, just a short time later, after the laughter subsides. So, in other words, you are allowing for complete relaxation of every muscle in your body when you laugh and mean it!
Other benefits of laughter
Can laughter help us on different levels other than our physical well-being? Certainly, it can! Laughter is a universal language after all. It is communicated on every surface of the planet by every person. Laughter is a very socially unifying trait. It brings people together and makes them feel part of something larger than themselves. Even if one doesn’t share the same views as others, often a hearty laugh can ease tension, break down barriers and restore balance to an otherwise tension-filled situation. Laughter fights loneliness as it aims to bring people together not make them feel isolated and alone.
How often do you laugh?
A child laughs approximately four hundred times a day while an adult engages in some humorous silliness only fifteen times a day. We are not limited to only fifteen times a day so why don’t we do it more often seeing how healthy it is for us?
I love to laugh and encourage others to do so as often as possible. Longevity is rumoured to be connected to laughter and remember that laughter is very contagious! After hearing all of the benefits of laughter, try doubling (or even tripling) the amount you laugh every day and see how much better you will feel inside and out! I’ll start you off now- Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha Ha!!!
We cannot emphasise it enough; laughter is in and of itself a form of therapy, and its benefits are many. So tell a joke, watch a comedy, read an amusing book or visit one of your more humorous friends. And then laugh because it’s right for you!