When was the last time you were with some friends and someone told a joke that caused you to snort your drink through your nose?
When did you last laugh so hard your stomach hurt, and you couldn’t stop laughing, and you waved your hand soundlessly at your friend – who was also doubled over – hardly able to take a breath, and all that came out was a little wheeze, as you gasped for breath?
Believe it or not, laughter is terrific medicine!
Short-term, laughter changes your mood and gives you a mental lift. But it also changes your body. Laughter:
- Activates and relieves your stress response, while increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. After your stomach stops hurting, you feel great, physically.
- Causes you to take in a lot of extra oxygen, which stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases blood flow to your brain.
- Increases your endorphins. Those are the brain and nervous system hormones that relieve pain and increase feelings of pleasure and euphoria.
- Reduces your stress hormones, which, if left unchecked, leave your body unbalanced and unable to fight off infection, as well as leaving you constantly feeling stressed. So reducing them is a good idea.
- Boosts your immune system by stimulating antibody cells – or T-cells – that fight off infection.
- Stimulates your circulation and helps your muscles relax, both of which reduce physical symptoms of stress.
- Lowers your blood pressure, which reduces your risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Works your abs and other muscles. It’s a natural exercise! When your stomach muscles expand and contract, like when you do strenuous exercise, you’re using muscles you don’t normally use. That’s why hearty laughter can “hurt”! But you can also “work out” your legs, back, shoulders, and arms when you really let out a long guffaw
Longer term, regularly adding hearty laughter to your life includes these benefits:
- Changes your thoughts and mood from negative to positive, even from depression to exhilaration. This turns into chemical reactions that change your body from stressed to relaxed which helps you stay healthy over time.
- Reduces chronic pain by producing natural painkillers
- Increases brain blood flow which improves your memory. In addition, emotional connection to something that you’re learning – such as finding something funny and laughing about it – helps you retain that memory better because you create more neural connections to the information.
- Fights cancer by increasing levels of IFN in your body. IFN stimulates cells that are the first defense against cancer and abnormal growth of tumors.
- Makes you feel happier and more satisfied with life. When you’re happier, it’s easier to connect with other people, both those you already know and love, and those who are new to you.
- Being in a good mood leads to choosing healthier foods… and you can guess what THOSE benefits are!
- Helps you be more creative, as a result of several of the above: reduced stress hormones, increased endorphins, increased oxygen levels in the brain.
In short, laughter is great for your body, great for your brain, and great for your spirit, or mind.
And you don’t even have to laugh for real! Your brain doesn’t actually care whether you’re laughing at something funny, or if your body is just going through the motions. You still benefit, physically. And before long, you also benefit mentally.
Try it now. Try smiling and feeling terrible. I dare you.
You can’t do it! When you smile, it immediately changes your body chemistry, which changes your feelings and emotions. Now I challenge you to laugh heartily for the next minute, and see how you feel.
Start by adding humor to your life every day – funny cartoons, videos, recordings, etc. – and if you don’t feel like laughing, do it anyway. Give out a great big guffaw and follow it up with giggles and chortles.
And if you try it in public, you’ll probably get others laughing with you!
Whether or not you feel like you’re a funny person, if you could benefit by having a laugh with me, and talking about your health and wellness goals, I’d love to talk with you! Please click here to sign up for a time for us to talk… and laugh!