Can Laughing Make You Healthier?
Yes it can!
Everyone knows that laughter feels good. Laughter can make any situation a little more bearable, but did you know it could actually make you healthier?
Children laugh about 400 times a day. Adults only laugh about 15 times a day, and that’s not the majority of adults.
Many of us get so wrapped up in the serious side of our jobs, whether it be in an office, working outside, or parenting. The trouble with that is we simply aren’t laughing enough. When we get so bogged down and serious, our stress levels spiral out of control. Oftentimes we forget there is really still a lighter side to life.
How often do you let yourself laugh? How often to you chuckle or really laugh until it hurts? Not often enough I’d bet!
Laughter is really an all-around health booster. According to “Science of Laughter” on the Discovery Health Web site, when we laugh, natural killer cells, which destroy tumors and viruses, increase.
Not only that, but Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein, T-cells (important for our immune system) and B-cells
(which make disease -fighting antibodies) increase too!
Blood pressure lowers with laughter, and you breathe more when laughing, thereby increasing oxygen in the blood. That also encourages healing.
Be aware though, what “some people” call humor is not beneficial. When jokes and laughter turn into jabs towards others, and yourself, you are no longer reaping the benefit of your laughter, and are in fact increasing pain and putting distance between yourself and others
Healthy humor is a whole body experience comprised of three key components:
1. Laughter, the reflexive and contagious physical experience.
2. Wit, the cognitive experience.
3. Amusement (or mirth), the feel good emotional experience enhanced when shared with others.
When these three elements are part of your “laughter” experience, you can be absolutely sure your body is benefiting!
Laughter really does lower blood pressure. Many tests have shown that those who laugh heartily on a regular basis have lower blood pressure than the average person.
Laughter protects our hearts. Laughter can help prevent heart disease.
The “humor factor” actually changes our biochemical state, similar to what the “flight or fight” syndrome does – only laughter changes are good. It decreases stress hormones and increases infection-fighting antibodies. It makes us more attentive, and increases the heart rate and pulse.
Laughter is a great workout for your diaphragm, abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles. It actually gives us a good workout. It massages abdominal organs, tones the intestinal functioning, and strengthens muscles that hold abdominal organs in place. A hearty laugh can burn calories equivalent to several minutes on the rowing machine or an exercise bike.
Humor does improve brain function, which in turn helps relieve stress. It stimulates both sides of the brain to enhance our intellect and learning. It eases psychological stress and allows people to retain more information.
When we laugh our ability to connect with others improves. Humor helps us to replace negative emotions with good feelings.
When humor enters it changes our behavior. We talk more, make more direct eyes contact with others, our energy increases, and simply put, it makes us feel better!
Look for everyday humor. There is humor to be found! There are things constantly around us that can incite humor if we let them. Honestly, you can find silly things happening around you every day.
Look at children. They can find humor in anything! Surround yourself with positive people. Take a humor break and pick up a book of jokes to read. When you start to feel pressured, pick the book up and read a few jokes.
I remember a time years ago that I went to the beach with friends. Trying to impress the guys, I attached a long ponytail to my own hair. I looked hot!
When asked to play volleyball I said, “Of course.” I had a hundred pins holding the darn thing in. We played for a few minutes and then my ponytail fell off!
Everyone looked shocked and I simply said “Time out”, and I set it by the sidelines and kept playing. No one laughed or mentioned it, and the game continued. I played hard and our team won.
When over, I put the hairpiece in my purse and my friend and I went back to the house. Once the door was closed we burst into laughter and fell down on the floor and laughed until our sides hurt. I’m still smiling.
Rather than suffer humiliation or embarrassment, I chose to ignore the stress, and just keep going. It was the best thing I possibly could have done.
Remember, this is your life! Don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy your life. Take a breath and take heart. It will work out easier if you remember to laugh!
Smile now. The good times are closer than you think.