The next time you find yourself laughing with friends or cracking up during a funny movie, stop and think about all the benefits your body is enjoying. In some ways, laughter really is the best medicine. The benefits of laughter have been studied, measured, and reported and can result in both physical and mental improvements. You laugh when you’re happy, when you’re joyful, when you’re surprised and delighted, and often when you’re around loved ones and friends. It makes sense that your body and your mind would reap some of the benefits of laughter.
The Benefits of Laughter
It Boosts Immunity
People go out of their way to improve their immune systems. They ingest elixirs and smoothies, and pay extra for vitamin C boosts. Turns out, they might have just needed a good laugh. Laughter and positive thoughts cause your body to release neuropeptides, natural proteins that help fight stress and illness (source).
It Lowers Stress
In the same way that laughter can release chemicals that help your body, stress and negative thoughts result in chemical reactions that can harm your body and mind. Stress has even been linked to serious health issues including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Laughter can help. It combats stress and lightens the mood. It’s not always easy to find moments of levity in difficult or stressful situations, but sometimes a good laugh can help ease the tension.
It Decreases Pain
If you’re not convinced of the benefits of laughter, consider this: Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is sometimes used to relieve pain and manage physical and emotional discomfort. Even the Cancer Treatment Centers of America tout the benefits of humor therapy: “Today more than ever before, people are turning to humor for therapy and healing. Medical journals have acknowledged that laughter therapy can help improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses.”
It’s Good for Your Heart
Laughter actually increases your blood flow. That’s because a big, hearty laugh causes your body to release beta-endorphins, which dilate your vessels. Laughter also results in the production of nitric oxide, a chemical that reduces inflammation. Research on this subject even showed that the benefits of laughter are equivalent to those seen from aerobic exercise.
It Strengthens Relationships
There’s something contagious about laughter. We’re naturally drawn to people who make us laugh or who can enjoy a good chuckle. It can bond a friendship, strengthen a romance, or add excitement and playfulness to a moment.
It Improves Your Mood
One of the best short-term effects of laughter is its ability to improve your mood almost immediately. As the Mayo Clinic reports, laughter increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. Regular laughter can help reduce depression and anxiety, and it can make you happier.
So the next time you’re feeling blue or under the weather, find a friend and share a good laugh. It might just be exactly what the doctor ordered.
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