Laughter is the best medicine, right? I certainly agree. There are few things more enjoyable than a genuine laugh—especially with all the health benefits that accompany a good chuckle. Between laughter’s ability to strengthen our immune system (and abs), boost our energy, reduce pain and sadness, and eliminate stress, it’s important to enjoy a little more humor in our lives.
So, in recognition of Humor Month, let’s chat and chew about laughter’s social, physical and mental benefits.
Social Benefits of Laughter
Laughter naturally strengthens our relationships with other people; it triggers more positive feelings and creates an emotional connection. When you laugh with someone, you’re creating a bond, which can protect against stress, arguments, or feelings of frustration. If you’re going through a rough patch with someone, the quickest way to ease the tension is to laugh. The ability laughter has to overcome tough times is powerful.
By incorporating more opportunities to laugh into your weekly schedule, you may find that your relationships—both good and bad—will begin to change for the better. Below are some opportunities for laughter you may want to consider:
- Watch a funny TV show or movie
- Host a game night with friends or family
- Take your dog to the park; play with your pet
- Go bowling, miniature golfing, or to a sports event
- Share a funny joke or story
You may notice that laughter can ignite more spontaneous behavior, cause you to be less defensive, or share truer feelings.
Physical Benefits of Laughter
Laughing lowers your blood pressure. When you’re mad, it’s not uncommon for your blood pressure to sky-rocket. By laughing more often, you not only lower your blood pressure, you also reduce your risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Laughter reduces hormone levels. By laughing, you reduce the level of stress hormones your body produces, which in turn lessens the impact of anxiety and stress on your body.
Laughter works your abs. Want toned abs? Get laughing! Now, laughing isn’t the only secret to better abs, but it certainly helps. When you laugh, your stomach muscles expand and contract, similar to how they do when during ab exercises. Even better—the muscles you are not using when you laugh are getting a chance to relax!
Laughter improves cardiac health. When you laugh, your heart pumps faster and burns a similar amount of calories as you would walking at a slow or moderate pace!
Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers, so by laughing, you can help reduce chronic pain and improve your overall health.
Emotional Benefits of Laughter
Plain and simple: laughter makes you feel good. Humor is known to help you keep a positive, optimistic outlook on life—especially during difficult times of loss or recovery. Laughter can give you the strength and courage to find new sources of hope and meaning. Humor helps shift perspective, which allows you to see situations in a different light and make things less overwhelming.
So, the next time you’re feeling down or need to recharge the batteries, find something worth laughing about. Don’t let the damaging effects of stress, loss, and struggle overpower your emotions—laugh more and help yourself see that the grass is always greener on the other side.