We have all heard it time and time again: Laughter is good medicine. Did you know it is actually true? Researchers around the globe have studied its short-term and long-term effects and found wonderful benefits to our health.
A good laugh has great short-term effects. During the act of laughing, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, there are physical changes that happen in the body.
- It reduces tension. As circulation increases and muscles relax, laughter melts away the physical symptoms of stress your body is holding on to.
- It counters stress on your heart. The release of stress-fighting hormones when you laugh can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, easing the work your heart has to do.
- It releases happy hormones. Laughter changes your body chemistry. Endorphins, also known as happy hormones, are released during chuckles. They leave us feeling good and full of energy. These are the same chemicals released during exercise and responsible for the runner’s high.
- Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up. It is good for the long haul as well.
Laughter’s long-term effects include:
- Boosting your mood. Laughter has been found to fight symptoms of depression and anxiety while improving your overall sense of happiness.
- Relieving pain. When you laugh, the body creates its own natural pain relievers that help to clamp down on nagging pain. In some muscle disorders that cause painful spasms, laughter can help break the cycle of muscular contractions that can be so debilitating.
- Bolstering your immune system. Laughing lowers your stress levels partly by shutting down stress hormones. Since these hormones suppress the immune system, laughter acts as a natural immune system booster.
- Helps you handle problems better. Giggling leads to your feeling happier about yourself and more connected to others. Being able to laugh in tough situations can also help you to cope with hardship.
So go ahead and give it a try. Find ways to laugh throughout your day. Share funny happenings with your friends or coworkers. The next time you feel embarrassed, try to laugh at yourself. Not only will it make the situation more bearable, you will be investing in your health!