A good belly laugh does wonders for your mood—but did you also know that it has a remarkable impact on your health? Below are four benefits of laughter that confirm that laughter trumps apples as the best way to keep the doctor away.
1. Busts stress
Laughter functions as a stress buster by shutting down the release of stress hormones like cortisol. It also triggers the production of feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine, which have all kinds of calming, anti-anxiety benefits.
2. Relieves pain
Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. It can also ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
3. Strengthens relationships
Laughter is central to relationships. Several studies point to shared laughter as a marker of relationship well-being. The amount of laughter a couple shares is connected to how close they feel and how supported they feel by the relationship. In other words, the more laughter a couple reports, the more favorably they rate their relationship.
4. Reduces blood pressure
one of the most dangerous side effects of stress is high blood pressure (hypertension), which is also a huge risk factor for heart disease and stroke. However, since stress and laughter can’t coexist, researchers have investigated whether laughter can bring blood pressure down. Several studies show a reduction of blood pressure after laughter, such as a 2017 study in the Journal of Dental and Medical Research, where patients exposed to “humor therapy” in the form of CDs of comic shows saw a decrease in blood pressure.
So now that you know that laughter has serious health benefits, how do you boost your chuckle quotient? Can you improve your sense of humor by working it like a muscle? As it turns out, you can. These three suggestions can make humor part of your daily repertoire of experiences.
Seek out humor
Whether its comedy videos, memes, cartoons or satire, actively seek out things that make you laugh. Cut out cartoons and put them on your fridge or hang them in your office. Make humor a priority—without getting to earnest about it. Find ways to cast a comical light on even the most serious situations.
Laugh at yourself
There’s nothing like being the butt of your own jokes to spread the levity. Being able to laugh about unfortunate events means you are able to tap into a wider perspective and get much needed distance on the problem.
Laughter loves company
One oft-cited study found that you’re 30 times more likely to laugh around other people than when you are by yourself. Invite friends over to watch stand-up comedy or simply get silly with your friends. Plenty of board games are designed to elicit humor. You can also make sure you have a good joke up you sleeve to bring a twinkle to someone else’s eye—and you may end up laughing at their enjoyment in the bargain.
Finally, I would like to conclude on a humorous note. Have you heard the one about why the buddha couldn’t vacuum under the sofa? Answer: He didn’t have any attachments. That’s the power of humor—to loosen our attachment to our plight so we can accept life’s twists with amusement.
Keep the good times rolling! Try these solutions to support a healthy mood: