Last month I wrote a blog titled 15 Evidence Based Ways to Relieve Stress, yet I forgot one very important and effective way to relieve stress and that is with laughter. Laughter not only reduces stress, it is great for you both mentally and physically.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to spend time relaxing and laughing with family and friends. Turns out that sharing a good laugh can actually improve your health. The act of laughing actually triggers healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, strengthen your immune system, and diminish pain. Children laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults we tend to be more serious and laugh much more infrequently, but we can laugh more… we just need to seek out more opportunities for humor and laughter.
Watch a funny movie, TV show, or YouTube video. Invite friends or co-workers to go to a comedy club. Read the funny pages. Seek out funny people. Share a good joke or a funny story. Regular laughter can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness and even add years to your life.
Spending time laughing with others on a regular basis is a great way to combat stress, anxiety, pain, and conflict. Humor connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you to release anger and be more forgiving.
Here are some of the benefits I was just reading about and wanted to share:
Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.
Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
Laughter is a natural part of life that is innate and we are born with. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.
Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.
Here are some ways to start:
Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter and like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling. Instead of looking down at your phone, look up and smile at people you pass in the street, the person serving you a morning coffee, or the co-workers you share an elevator with. Notice the effect this has on others.
Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter.
When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s so funny?”
Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily both at themselves and at life’s absurdities and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious. Even if you don’t consider yourself a lighthearted, humorous person, you can still seek out people who like to laugh and make others laugh. Every comedian appreciates an audience.
Laugh loudly, laugh often, and most important laugh at yourself.
If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general or you would just like to hear a funny story, you can reach me at: email@example.com