Laughing not only improves your mood, it also has many short-term mental, social and physical health benefits. Because the perks of chuckling are short-lived, you’ll need to do it frequently to maximize the positive effects. Laugh often, feel happier and take advantage of this inexpensive way to boost your health with no worry of side effects.
A belly laugh leaves you feeling gratified and relaxed. It’s like a mini-workout without the sweat. Your muscles are activated, you breathe deeply and your heart rate increases. Laugh researchers — called gelotologists (from the Greek “gelos” which means “laughter”) — advocate using knee-slappers as an alternative to medicine.
There are physiological and psychological reactions to laughter that explain why we feel so wonderful after a good guffaw.
It seems like a simple thing to add more laughter into your life, but making an effort to do so can bring about these real benefits:
Elevates Your Mood
Endorphins are released when you giggle, which lifts your mood and general outlook on life. Finding respite in laughter helps you cope when things are difficult. Laughter has also been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and is promoted in medical settings to give patients relief.
Strengthens Your Relationships
Sharing a chuckle with a friend or loved one brings you closer and increases intimacy. If you are arguing with your partner, diffuse the angry tension with humor. This will give both of you a chance to calm down and reestablish your connection. Teams build rapport when they joke around with each other.
It’s Good for Your Heart
Tee-heeing is not only good for your romantic heart, it’s good for your actual cardiovascular health. When you laugh, your heart pumps faster and your blood vessels dilate, which reduces your blood pressure.
Reduces Physical Pain
In one study, participants were able to increase their pain tolerance by 10 percent after watching 15 minutes of an amusing video. Endorphins are your body’s natural morphine. They interact with the opiate receptors in your brain to relieve the perception of pain.
Stimulates Muscle Groups
Your abs, diaphragm, legs and back are all engaged when you react to a side splitter. Fifteen minutes of laughter will burn up to 40 calories, depending on your weight and the vigor of your wisecracking.
Reduces Stress Hormones
The long-term effects of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are harmful to your health. Chortling lowers these “fight or flight” chemicals, resulting in a relaxed, joyous feeling that replaces your anxiety and tension.
Here are 10 ways to incorporate the power of laughter into your life:
- Spend time with children — they naturally laugh more than adults and can help you be silly.
- Play with a pet to bring out your lighter side.
- Hang out with people who make you laugh out loud.
- Choose a sitcom instead of the news.
- Listen to a humorous podcast while you drive, clean,
garden or cook.
- Ask family members “What was the funniest thing that happened to you today?” at the dinner table.
- When you go to the movies, choose a comedy.
- Practice laughter yoga, called Hasyayoga. Forced laughter with a group turns into genuine laughter.
- Go to a comedy club with friends.
- Peruse YouTube for funny videos.