”Laughter is the best medicine”
We hear this so much we no longer believe it’s true. That a statement sounds cliché does not make it untrue, we have just become so used to certain statements so much that they have lost their meaning. The truth though is, laughter has astonishing effects on the health.
Laughter usually comes as a reaction to something funny depending on our personalities. It could be a reaction to sounds, images, memories or sensations. After being exposed to something we find hilarious, the sensory nerves send a message to the brain. The left hemisphere decodes the words analytically while the right hemisphere properly interpretes the joke. An image is finally formed and the emotional system ends up releasing chemicals that improve the mood. In the end, the motor system triggers laughter. When you see the humour in situations or get involved in activities that create humour, your body gets a chance to exercise important muscles. Exercising these muscles ease the tension in them and improves their function. It also helps reduce the levels of stress in the body, thereby improving overall health.
The physical effects of laughter are as important as the social effects, for this reason we will see a few of the benefits of laughter ;
1. Improves the Immune System
Antibodies are cells that are involved in warding off foreign bodies that might cause illnesses in the body. These cells could be stimulated by laughter such that they begin to develop a lot faster. This is done through a shift in the hormones of the body that changes the body’s chemistry. Of course with increased antibodies come a stronger immune system able to fight off illnesses faster. A study carried out on this found out that T-cells(a kind of white blood cells, lymphocytes ) were higher in a person who had laughed often.
2. Decreases Stress Hormones
Immunosuppressant hormones are stress hormones that even though are needed by the body at certain times, are harmful to the immune system when in large “unuseful” quantities. Laughter, according to studies decreases these stress hormone levels and bring back the balance in homeostasis thereby improving the well-being of a person.
3. Helps Burn Fat
I bet you had no idea you could lose a few calories from laughing. You see, laughter is actually an exercise. It increases the heart rate and metabolism. It is therefore not a bad idea to intentionally add a little humour activity to your weight loss plan, it is could be a TV show or a hangout with friends, whatever rocks your boat.
4. Keeps The Heart Protected
Laughter decreases the blood pressure, after first increasing it. Remember how laughter is an exercise? Good, your heart needs one of those too. The heart is a muscle and like every other muscle, it needs an exercise to function better. A good laughter does this for your heart. It has been found that laughing improves blood flow all over the body and therefore reduces the risks of a heart disease. Yes, laughter is as important as it is made to look, as important as working out.
5. Improves Hormones That Enhance Health
Certain hormones in the body improve the health of the body. Endorphins and neurotransmitters are examples of these hormones. Whenever you laugh, these hormones are increased and improve your body’s function. For example, increased levels of neurotransmitters cause your brain to process information faster and cause you to understand situations at a much higher rate. Endorphins almost work like addictive drugs, attaching itself to the part of the brain where opiates get attached to, making it feel like an experience that come from drugs but apart from the side effects. It improves the mood and eases anger, tension and even pain. Infact, a British study shows that it increases the pain threshold of a person, this makes laughter like a pain killer or pain dampener. It was realized that the pain threshold could be increased by 10 percent with fifteen minutes of laughter.
6. A Form of Exercise
Remember the old adage that says “it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile “? It’s true, except when you’re laughing. Laughter has a way of exercising the body – the diaphragm, the muscles of the abdomen, the muscles of the face and eventually your back, arms and legs if you laugh really hard. Exercising these muscles help to ease the tension in them and help them function better.
7. Enhances Mood
Laughter is known to have the same effect as an analgesic in reducing pain, thereby improving the mood. Even a laughter that was forced would have same effect in improving the mood because the brain can actually not tell the difference between a laughter that is genuine and that which is forced. This means even if you don’t find something funny, engaging in the physical activity itself is what improves moods. It causes healthy feeding as depression causes indulgent feeding which is bad for the health. So we can say laughter does a whole lot to keep us healthy.
8. Reduces Depression
In a study, it was realized that depression was reduced in patients who were rather advanced in age with a laughter therapy. Laughter does this by triggering a feeling of happiness and well-being. It tends to reduce stress and tension and lowers anxiety, all of which are negative feelings that cause depression. The activity can therefore be beneficial to people suffering from depression and is also useful in keeping depression away.
Have you noticed how contagious laughter can be too? This means you would also be helping people around you by bringing laughter to them. This also means you can improve your relationships by initiating humour, reducing the tensions that exist. You will be remembered also for the lightheartedness and joy you bring with you. So apart from the health benefits of laughter, laughter also has lots of social benefits as you have seen. Be sure to make use of every benefit of laughter, be it social or health.
See what I did there?
You deserve a laugh too So go ahead.
Live Strong. Laugh hard.