Why should I laugh? – would you ask. There’s no reason around. But if we look deeper, we’ll definitely find a lot. An English poet Lord Byron once said: “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine”.
It’s no longer a secret that laughter keeps us young. Researchers studying the process of aging know that laughter improves blood circulation — to the head and to the heart. Laughing is good for us.
A good belly laugh every day improves mood, improves physical health and improves emotional health. Best of all, it’s free to everyone.
Laughing heartily and uncontrollably provides a physical release. Several muscles are exercised including the diaphragm, the abdomen muscles and the shoulders. Blood circulation is increased for all major body organs including the brain. Laughter even provides some exercise for the heart. Increased blood circulation stimulates facial muscles so you might even look better!
Some researchers report that laughter can reduce pain. Increasingly, medical experts use laughter therapy in cancer care and with other chronic illnesses.
When we laugh, stress hormone levels are reduced and levels of healthy hormones are increased. The body’s immune system improves with the release of endorphins, those natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals.
These physical effects account for the cleansed feeling that happens after a good laugh.
He who laughs, lasts! Norwegian proverb.
It’s hard to feel anxious or sad when you are having a good laugh. Laughter distracts. It takes your mind away from daily problems and worries. When the endorphins reach your brain, stress levels are automatically reduced. You relax and as you relax you recharge. You start to feel good and your mind clears.
Laughter can also provides a new perspective. Very often I need my husband’s light-hearted view of the world to help me see situations differently. His easy laughter re-frames problems which helps me to see new possibilities — and sometimes, to find novel solutions.
Experts consider the social benefits of laughter as the most powerful way that laughter influences health. Laughter creates and strengthens relationships. It is contagious. When you laugh, others laugh too — thus the quality of social interaction improves.
Yet despite the fact that laughter has so many benefits, far too many of us forget to even crack a smile every once in a while, let alone laugh. The following are some ways to incorporate more laughter and joy in your life:
- Don’t take life too seriously. We all have obstacles in life and we all make mistakes. There is no reason to beat yourself up over it. In fact, if you can laugh light-heartedly at your own foibles, you’ll find that you give yourself that extra happiness and confidence boost that can get you over any hurdle. This also extends to other people. Try not to be too hard on others — a smile and a chuckle goes a lot further than criticism.
- Find the humor in a bad situation. Sure, there are some situations that are genuinely sad and certainly not laughing matters. However, most situations in life have an ironic or ludicrous side to them. The next time you feel the stress levels rising, take a minute to think about the irony of the situation and allow yourself to laugh over the things you cannot control. This will decrease the amount of cortisol that your body produces due to stress, lowering your blood pressure, blood sugar levels and heart rate.
- Remind yourself of funny moments from the past. Perhaps a friend told you a great joke the other day, your children or pets did something amusing, or maybe you watched a funny movie recently that had you in stitches. Call on these memories frequently, especially when you are feeling sad, angry or stressed. Sometimes just reliving a funny moment can cause the endorphins to kick in, which act as natural painkillers and mood boosters.