Laughter Improves Health22nd Jun 2016
Who feels like laughing when overloaded with the cares and concerns of daily life? Yet it is during challenging times that a dose of laughter can uplift the spirits, strengthen the immune system, relieve pain and lower stress levels. It also tones up body organs such as the heart, lungs and stomach, exercises the muscles, and stimulates production of the body's natural painkillers and feel-good hormones.
But we need something to laugh about. Having a sense of humour helps. But even if you don't have this right now, when you realise just how therapeutic laughter is for the mind and body, it may encourage you to try and lighten up a little and smile more. Even during difficult times, a smile can ease the tension you feel.
Developing a sense of humour helps to make smiling and laughing easier. It also restores balance in the bodily system, because it engages the whole brain, exercising both left and right hemispheres. Balance creates optimum conditions for the body's own natural healing process to start up.
Humour spreads its vibes quickly throughout the body. The moment we find something humorous, electrical waves in our brain spring to action. Our left brain (the logical part) analyses the structure of the words, sounds or images of what we find amusing. Our right brain (the feeling part) senses it. Our limbic (emotional) system makes us feel happy, then our motor neuron system makes us smile or laugh. At this point there is a positive knock-on effect throughout our body:
Laughter activates and increases the specialised T cells in the body which fight sickness, disease and tumours. So next time you feel a cold coming on, add a chuckle or two to your remedies.
Laughter stimulates the pituitary gland to release pain-suppressing endorphins throughout the body. Endorphins are also feel-good hormones which produce a sense of well-being.
Laughing makes the stomach muscles expand and contract, similar to exercising the abs. It also exercises and relaxes the diaphragm, lungs, shoulders, and the back and facial muscles.
While laughing, we empty the lungs of more air than we inhale. This has a cleansing effect, which is particularly good for people suffering respiratory ailments such as asthma.
Laughter is a good cardio workout, exercising and strengthening the heart (which is also a muscle). Regular laughing lowers blood pressure and benefits blood flow through the body, reducing the likelihood of stroke and heart attacks.
Laughter is a good physical exercise, burning up calories, raising the heart rate and speeding up metabolism.
Stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin are reduced during laughter, relieving many stress symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and tension.
Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are the four neurotransmitters or hormones responsible for feeling happy. Laughter stimulates the body to produce more of them. The effect is more joy and zest to life.
Wellbeing & Mood
Laughter can increase your overall sense of lightness, joy and wellbeing, making you feel better about yourself and life, and strengthening resilience to any challenges and setbacks which threaten to lower your morale.
Laughter helps you to lighten up and see situations in a more realistic and less threatening way.
Laughter is contagious, so you will also help others to laugh more. It will create bonding, happiness and intimacy, enriching the quality of your relationships with others. It also triggers positive feelings between people and acts as a buffer against tension and disagreements.
So start your day with a smile or a chuckle. You will feel good and you will make other people feel good too. The more you smile and laugh, the easier it will become, and the quicker you will reap the many benefits to your physical, mental and emotional health.
Copyright © 2016 Brenda Martin