Laughter is the Best Medicine: The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter
Laughter is strong medicine for mind and body- Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependently to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” Paul E. McGhee, PhD
Laughter is good for your health
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 and humor help you stay emotionally healthy
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.
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh- or even simply a smile- can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in on the fun.
Ways to help yourself see the lighter side of life:
*Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take ourselves less seriously is talk about times when we took ourselves too seriously.
*Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.
*Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in or car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
*Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond our control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might think taking the weight of the work on your shoulders is admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy, and even egotistical.
*Deal with your stress. Stress is a major impediment to humor and laughter.
*Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing…
Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, PhD- Updated July 2021