Everyone loves to laugh. Here's why it's good for you.
- Posted on May 16, 2017
You've probably heard that stress can have a negative effect on your health. Prolonged exposure to frustration-inducing situations can lead to higher levels of stress and increased blood pressure, which can lead to or exacerbate health conditions. Unfortunately, we can’t just wish the bad stuff away. And, there's no substitute for medical care. If stress is affecting your health, go to your doctor, or if appropriate, a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment.
After you've done that, though, there is something you enjoy doing that also helps improve your health: Laughter.
If you're looking for a reason to watch a comedy or giggle with a good friend, keep reading.
Here are five scientifically proven benefits of laughter.
1) Blood pressure reduction
Has your doctor brought up blood pressure concerns? Get a little help from laughter! Did you know laughter has cardiovascular effects that are similar to exercise? It can be a great short term solution when you don’t have the energy to work out. The deep breaths it triggers combined with the use of abdominal muscles causes an effect similar to exercising. Laughter results in a short term blood pressure increase and promotes healthy circulation. In the long term, however, laughter results in a decrease in blood pressure.
2) Decreased Anxiety/Depression
Many of us deal with negative emotions from time to time. But guess what?! Laughter is a wonderful tool to help you cope with difficult situations. According to Mayo Clinic, laughter promotes positive mental health by decreasing the stress hormones. Reducing stress hormones allows us to directly reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. The endorphins that are released during laughter add an overall sense of well-being, similar to that of exercise. Even if you don’t suffer from depression, laughter helps by promoting a general positive view on life.
3) Better Memory
The hippocampus is an area of the brain that plays an important role in being able to make new memories. According to PsychEducation.org, hormones associated with stress can damage the hippocampus. Alzheimer's shows us the effects of hippocampal damage. It targets the hippocampus first and causes those diagnosed to be stuck with past memories instead of living in the present. Stress hormones can damage the hippocampus but because laughter helps decrease cortisol and other stress hormones it aids in memory function!
4) Improved Immune System
Our thoughts affect us in more ways than we think. Long term exposure to stress (or heavy weighing negative thoughts) can weaken your immune system. Luckily, when stress hormones are reduced, your immune system is able to function at a higher capacity. According to research in Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease, laughter boostsT-cells--immune system cells that help fight off illness. Increased immune function means less sickness and less time feeling yucky!
5) Pain Reduction
Suffering from chronic aches and pains? Laughter can help with that! In addition to helping you fight off illnesses, laughter also helps decrease pain. According to research in Scientific American, when you laugh, your body produces its own natural painkillers called endorphins. Laughter also increases your threshold for pain for a short period of time. So, schedule a time to meet with friends and laugh some of that pain away!
Remember, nothing can replace your doctor's advice and medical treatment, but laughter is a great--and free!--addition to your health plan. Take your new knowledge on the benefits of laughter and laugh heartily.