Laughter Can Make You Healthy
No matter which way you laugh – with a reserved smirk, friendly chuckle, or loud, full-belly roar – you’re onto a good thing. Laughing is great for the mind and the body. So if you’re not already seeing the lighter side of life, here are seven reasons why you should do it more often:
1. To reduce stress.
Feeling the mental and physical burden of a busy, over-scheduled life? Laughter can help decrease your stress hormone levels (such as cortisol and epinephrine), and activate happy-inducing hormones like endorphins. Since laughter also stimulates greater circulation in your body, you may also notice your muscles relaxing and feeling less tense.
2. To boost your immune system.
Relieving stress through laughter is not only good for your sanity, but it can help your immune system as well. Think about it this way: When you’re stressed, chemical reactions in your body can weaken your immune system, making it more likely for you to get sick. Conversely, when you engage in hearty bouts of laughter, your immune system gets “powered up” to help you stay healthier long-term.
3. To improve your mood.
Seems kind of obvious, right? But a good laugh does more than just give you a quick jolt of joy. It also helps you release harmful emotions such as worry, anxiety, and guilt. Think of it as an instant pick-me-up that shifts the focus from negative to positive. How can you be grumpy when you’ve just heard the best – and most cringy – Dad joke ever?
4. To treat your heart.
Turns out, laughter is good for your ticker too. It can help reduce high blood pressure, another dangerous side effect of stress, which is a strong precursor for heart disease and stroke. Similarly, laughter improves blood flow and supports overall heart health.
5. To feel refreshed.
Got a case of the BLAHs? When you’re feeling sluggish, a good laugh can give you a full-body wake-up. You’ll feel more alert and refreshed, as laughter boosts your oxygen levels and releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones mentioned earlier. It’s an easy way to get a quick jolt of energy – with a smile.
6. To switch perspectives.
Life can feel pretty heavy sometimes, but laughter helps you see the lighter side of things. It can take a situation that might seem embarrassing or even disastrous in the moment, and turn it into one that makes you smile. (Just think of all the times you’ve said, “This might hurt now, but I know it’ll make a funny story someday.” ). Research also shows that laughter acts as a positive coping mechanism during difficult times.
7. To boost your confidence.
Ever fall in front of a group of strangers or come out of the bathroom with a trail of toilet paper stuck to your shoe? Not exactly shining moments, right? When you can laugh at yourself and shake things off, your confidence grows. You realize that in the grand scheme of things, these minor mishaps are character-builders. So the next time you’re tempted to blush and run for cover, take a bow and let out a laugh.
8. To increase social connection.
Laughter is a universal bonding mechanism. It brings people from all walks of life together and serves as common ground. The same way a smile or kindness is contagious, laughter has a ripple effect. It’s hard not to join in and bust a gut over a shared joke or story. Laughter can also help break the ice during awkward moments. (We’re looking at you, blind dates!)
9. To burn calories.
For the record, we’ll never advise quitting your workouts. But let it be stated that a good, hearty belly laugh can have similar effects as exercise. Your heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen consumption all increase when you laugh. And, according to a 2014 study in the International Journal of Obesity, laughter can even burn calories. We’re only talking about 10 calories in 10 minutes … but still!
Let’s get you laughing more.
Now that you know you need to laugh more, how do you do it? Easy! Here are a few simple ways to bust a gut:
Spend more time with your kids: Ever notice how kids can find fun in just about anything? A cardboard box, some old plastic containers, a pet rock …. It’s also been said that the average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day, while the average 40-year-old laughs only four.1 If you don’t have kids of your own, spend some time with family friends and let their little ones share their joy.
Connect with an old friend. Do you have a college buddy who you love to swap stories with? Odds are that when you get together, the memories come flooding back and the laughter lasts all night. This kind of social connection is crucial to your happiness. According to research from the University of Maryland, people are 30 times more likely to laugh when they’re with others than when they’re alone.2
Listen to a funny podcast. If you’ve been living under a rock lately, podcasts have become hugely popular. As of August 2020, there were over 1,000,000 podcasts and over 29 million episodes.3 With all this choice, you’re bound to find a light-hearted favorite to listen to while you commute, work around the house, or relax.
Put yourself out there. Trying something new – especially something you’re not naturally good at – is a great way to flex your laughing muscles in a good-natured way. Example: trying a dance lesson or exercise class when you’re not the most coordinated person in the world. If you can laugh at yourself while stumbling through the moves, it’s mission accomplished!
Sign up for improv classes. Not only are improv lessons a great way to build confidence, but they’re a guaranteed good time. Even if you’ve never acted before, the “Yes, and …” rule of improv will keep you in a safe, judgment-free space. When you come up with a crazy idea, your improv partner will say, “Yes, and …” and build on your storyline. It’s fun, off-the-wall, and laughable in all the right ways.
Where do YOU fall on the laughter spectrum – someone who does it often or someone who needs a top-up? It might seem trivial, but laughter is an important piece of the healthy lifestyle puzzle. For more ways to live your best life, visit labrada.com.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.