Self-Care Saturdays: Laughter is no joking matter!
Laughter is said to be contagious. When in the presence of laughter, it’s not unusual to find yourself chuckling along with the group before you’ve heard the punchline! Shared laughter creates bonds between people, increasing happiness and a sense of togetherness. But did you know that a having hearty laugh also triggers physiological changes in our bodies?
The health benefits of laughter
Laughter is powerful medicine for soothing both body and mind. It can boost your immune system, reduce pain, and serves as a protective factor against the ravages of stress. Being doubled up with laughter may just help in the following ways:
A good belly laugh can actually relieve tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes
Laughter reduces the stress hormones and simultaneously cuts the anxiety and stress impacting your body, and may results in higher immune system performance. When you laugh, you activate T cells that play an important roll in fighting off infection, thus improving resistance to disease
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates, which promote overall sense of wellbeing and can relieve pain
Frequent laughter is found to improve function of blood vessels and increase blood flow, which can protect against heart attack and other cardiovascular problems
Laugher and emotional health
Laughing frequently makes you feel good in the moment, but remains with you even after the laughter subsides:
Seeing the funny side of life helps you to maintain a positive outlook when difficulties, loss and disappointments come your way.
Laughter can be a respite from sadness and emotional distress, and a giggle or smile can make your feel better, even in the darkest of times
It can give you courage and strength to find meaning and hope when you’re faced with difficulties
A sense of humor allows you to shift perspective on troublesome life circumstances, enabling you to see the situation in a more realistic, less threatening light. Humor creates psychological distance that can shield you from feeling overwhelmed
Laughter and social connection
Humor and playful communication can strengthen relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connections with others.
Shared laughter is one of the best means for keeping relationships fresh and fun. Emotional sharing indeed build strong bonds, but laughter adds joy, energy and resilience
Humor is effective for healing emotional wounds such as resentment and conflict, and can unite people during difficult times
Adding fun and playfulness to your daily interactions can improve the quality of your relationships, not just at home, but in the workplace and with friends
Using your funny bone allows you to be more spontaneous, let go of defensiveness, releases inhibitions and express your true feelings
Laughter is natural
Laughter is a natural part of what it means to be human. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within the first month of being born. Make time for seeking out humor and laughter, as you might for creating an exercise regime. Here are some ways to start:
Smile: a lot like laughter, smiling is contagious!
Paying attention to the good things in life can distance you from negative thoughts and feelings that normal act as a barrier to laughter
Seek out fun, playful people, and gravitate to those who laugh easily and can laugh at themselves or find humor in the absurdity of life
Bring humor into conversations by sharing amusing stories or asking others to share stories from their own lives
Lighten up already!
Some events are not an occasion for laughter, but most circumstances fall into some grey area where the choice to laugh is up to you. Some ways to see the brighter side of life may include:
Laugh at yourself by sharing embarrassing moments or times when you took yourself too seriously
Looking for the humor, the irony and absurdities in life can improve your mood and the mood of those around you
Engage in playful activities, such as keeping a toy on your desk, watching funny cat videos on YouTube, or arrange a “play date” with friends
Refrain from taking on the weight of the world: it might seem admirable, but in the long run, it is unrealistic, unproductive, and unhealthy
Make strides to manage your stress, as chronic stress impedes humor and playfulness
Have fun with the kids: they’re world class experts on playing, laughing and other assorted silliness!
So go on, crack up, split your sides, roll on the floor and be in stitches! It’s official: laughing is good for you! Make humor and playfulness an vital part of your day, as Charlie Chaplin famously said:
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”