We have all heard the expression “laughter is the best medicine,” but is there any merit to this seemingly timeless adage? We all love to laugh (ha ha ha), whether it’s a funny movie or a great joke, we can’t resist. But did you know that laughter actually helps improve our physical and mental health? A good laugh is not only fun but also helps to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Here we will look at five of the biggest benefits of getting in a good hearty laugh every day.
Laughter Helps Alleviate Stress
Many of us like to round out our day in front of our favorite comedy show. While it may just seem routine, what you may not know is that it also allows you to de-stress after a long day. Studies have shown that laughter can help relieve muscle tension and stress. An hour of watching funny, lighthearted television can actually serve as a form of stress relief.
Laughter Lowers Stress Hormones
Every time we laugh our brains release a rush of endorphins, which are the neurotransmitters that give us a brief mental boost. Studies have shown a clear link between laughter and lowering of stress hormones. One study showed that simply anticipating a good laugh lowers stress hormones. As we laugh and lower our stress level, we can drastically improve the state of our mental health.
Laughter Boosts Immunity
Another big benefit we get from laughter is a boost to our immune system. Each time we laugh we lower our stress hormones, which leads to a spike in our immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. This means that the simple act of laughing helps us ward off illnesses. One Norwegian study even showed that people who get in a good laugh every day have a better life expectancy than those who don’t.
Laughter Is Heart Healthy
Having a good laugh helps us not only in the short-term, but also for the long haul. The act of laughing increases the function of our blood vessels and leads to a spike in blood flow. When done regularly, this can help protect the heart from experiencing a number of heart risks like heart attack or cardiac disease.
The American Heart Association cites a study where people watched a movie and their cardiac response was monitored for comparison. One group watched Saving Private Ryan, a dark war movie, and the other watched the comedy There’s Something About Mary. They found that the group watching the war movie experienced constriction in blood vessel lining and decreased blood flow. The group watching the comedy experienced the exact opposite.
Laughter Wards of Depression
The simple act of laughing creates a powerful impact on our brains. Every funny moment leads to a series of events inside the brain. With everything from decreasing stress hormones to increasing healthful neurotransmitters, our brains react big time. This brainy reaction can even help minimize the symptoms of depression and anxiety. A 2015 study investigated Laughter Therapy on patients battling cancer. They found that this new type of therapy decreases levels of anxiety, stress, and depression and increase the quality of life in patients.
Who knew that laughter truly can serve as a form of “medicine”? The power of laughter is truly amazing. When we benefit both physically and mentally we can do wonders to help our health. So make sure that every day you find a few minutes for some laughter therapy.