14 health-related benefits of why we should laugh more 😃
Laughter is our most basic emotional responses, but we aren’t taught to laugh or even to smile; they’re as natural to us as breathing. Laughter is clinically proven to have a powerful and positive effect on physical, emotional and social wellbeing. A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body.
Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long term. Laughter can improve your immune system, relieve pain, increase personal satisfaction and improve your mood.
There is growing interest in laughter as a simple and effective health and wellbeing strategy. These are the discoveries in the ever growing list of the benefits from laughing.
“Your sense of humour 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, Ph.D
Laughter is clinically proven to:
1. Boost the immune system.
Laughing improves the body’s natural defence mechanism by increasing the amount of immunoglobulin’s and T cells in the body.
2. Reduce the risk of heart disease.
Laughing expands the inner walls of the arteries which increases the ability of blood to flow around the body, and, this positive effect lasts for up to 45 minutes after the laughter has stopped.
3. Decrease stress.
Laughing instantly reduces the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine, and increases the production of serotonin and endorphins which reduce effects of stress.
4. Can assist as a mild anti-depressant.
Laughter boosts the production of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. Laughter also works as an effective distraction from things that cause anxiety and anger.
5. Reduce blood pressure.
When you laugh, the blood flow increases, circulation improves and your blood pressure rises. When you stop laughing, your blood pressure drops back to its baseline. This relaxing effect helps to lower your baseline blood pressure.
6. Is a natural painkiller.
There are a number of studies which validate the pain relieving effects of laughter. Studies show that watching comedy films assists both children and adults to tolerate pain more easily.
7. Massage the abdominal organs.
Belly laughing effectively ‘massages’ the abdominal organs. The blood flow to these organs is increased and their functioning is improved.
8. Help keep diabetes under control.
A recent study showed that people who watched a funny video after meal had lower blood sugar levels than those who watched a serious film. It could be that laughter affects the neuroendocrine system, which monitors the body´s glucose levels, or it may be the effect of energy used by the stomach muscles.
9. Make you look younger.
As many as 15 facial muscles work together to help you smile and laugh. This increases the blood flow around the face, bringing the circulation into even the smallest of capillaries which, in turn, helps to make you look younger and healthier.
10. Re-energise the mind and body.
Laughing forces air out of lungs, and causes us to take deep inward.
11. Build resilience.
The ability to laugh, or at least smile, when times get tough, is the best way to reduce stress and anxiety. While a little stress actually helps to motivate us into action and to focus on the problem, laughter helps us to focus on the solution and achieve more productive outcomes.
12. Aid with sleep.
Having a good laugh prior to sleep reduces stress and anxiety, promoting deep, restful sleep. Laughter also provides a mild aerobic workout, which, not only energizes you in the short term, but also helps you to sleep better.
13. Bond us to others.
Laughter causes the release of oxytocin. Often called the empathy hormone, oxytocin helps bond individuals and groups together. A little laughter is great for building great teams, be they in the community or at work.
14. Is contagious.
Laughing not only lifts our spirits but also the spirit of those around us. Happy people lift the spirit of those around them. Remember, a smile or laugh shared is a smile or laugh doubled.
Creating opportunities to laugh
Some find laughter easy to come by, whilst others struggle to see humour or “find their funny”. Believe it or not, it’s possible to laugh without experiencing a funny event—and simulated laughter can be just as beneficial as the real thing. It can even make exercise more fun and productive. A Georgia State University study found that incorporating bouts of simulated laughter into an exercise program helped improve older adults’ mental health as well as their aerobic endurance. Plus, hearing others laugh, even for no apparent reason, can often trigger genuine laughter.
To add simulated laughter into your own life, search for laugh yoga or laugh therapy groups (some offer online masterclasses). Or you can start simply by laughing at other people’s jokes, even if you don’t find them funny. Both you and the other person will feel good, it will draw you closer together, and who knows, it may even lead to some spontaneous laughter.
- Watch a funny movie, TV show, or YouTube videos.
- Invite friends or co-workers out to a comedy club.
- Read the funny pages.
- Seek out funny people.
- Share a good joke or a funny story.
- Check out your bookstore’s humor section.
- Host game night with friends.
- Play with a pet.
- Go to a “laughter yoga” class.
- Goof around with children.
- Do something silly.
- Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke).
– Mayo Clinic. Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. Read more
– Laughter university research centre. Science Of Laughter: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet. Read more
– HelpGuide. Laughter is the Best Medicine. Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. July 2021. Read more
Discover more insights on the benefits of laughter and happiness
Volume one covers a range of topics that support being positive and provides information on the ways to reinforce a positive outlook on life. Titled “Laughter, Smiles & Being positive”, the first volume explores the many physical, emotional and health benefits from laughter and being positive. Learn about the facts, results from case studies conducted by scientists and specialists from around the world. Read more on Volume 1.