Wellness Matters

7 Ways Laughter Makes Us Healthier

August 15, 2016

Some days are so stressful that you just want to scream. When you try to vent to a close confidant, he or she may tell you to just laugh it off, much to your dismay. However, this is actually great advice.

The average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day while the average 40-year-old only laughs 15 to 20 times. Is there a correlation between how much more children laugh than adults and how much more energy and vitality they possess?

The late Norman Cousins wrote extensively about laughter as a cure. He had inflammatory arthritis and claimed that 10 minutes of laughter provided him with two hours of pain-free sleep.

Research shows that laughter reduces stress levels, increases healthy hormones, increases natural antibodies and improves blood flow to the heart. The result is better disease resistance, more relaxation, better moods and a more positive outlook.

Laughter is highly effective in relieving stress, pain and conflict. The very act of laughing can relax muscles and raise alertness. It provides strong support for emotional, physical and social well-being. It is also a universal language that can help diffuse a tense situation. Here are seven ways laughter benefits us:

  1. Relaxation – Laughter relaxes the body by relieving tension and stress. It can leave your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes. This can increase your energy, enabling you to refocus. 
  2. Immunity – By decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and antibodies, laughing can actually improve your resistance to disease. 
  3. Endorphins – Laughter triggers the release of endorphins. This provides the body with a feeling of well-being and pain relief. 
  4. Heart health – Laughter increases blood flow, which helps prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. 
  5. Cheerful – It is difficult to maintain a state of anxiousness, anger or sadness when laughing. Any fears holding you back seem less important. Laughter allows situations to seem less threatening or overwhelming. 
  6. Spontaneity – Laughing helps you quit focusing on things weighing you down and can ease troubling situations. It’s easy to forget about your doubts, criticisms and pre-conceived judgments when laughing. 
  7. Self-expression – Laughter is disarming and makes expressing deep emotions less scary. 

Laughter is within all of us. Seek out things that you find funny and that will make you laugh. It can be movies, books or performances. Some find great humor with children or pets. Even physical activities such as bowling, miniature golf or kickball can provide laughter. The important part is to just keep laughing. As 19th century humorist Josh Billings noted, “laughing is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one spot.”

About the Author

Dr. Robyn Sanders
Robyn M. Sanders, MD specializes in Internal Medicine with Triad Internal Medicine Associates, a Cone Health Medical Group practice.


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