Laughter Is the Best MedicinePublished on Thursday, January 12, 2023 by
Are There Health Benefits to Laughing?
What do you call a zucchini noodle? An impasta! Health isn’t just about eating your greens and moving your body. It’s about taking joy in living a life of balance, growth, and purpose. And while we need a good diet and exercise, it is equally important to relax, play, and laugh. Yep! Laughter truly is the best medicine.
Two Types of Laughter
There are two primary types of laughter: social and involuntary
Social laughter is a bit more conscious. It’s a method of communicating. When a friend tells a story and you giggle, you’re letting them know you’re listening. It’s communicating that you’re “getting it”, that’s a funny story. It’s not uncontrollable and you’re not taken over by laughter. You are connecting with your friend.
Involuntary laughter is a psychological response from your body. It’s not a conscious choice. Most of the time you cannot stop yourself. Those belly laughs make you ache because they just take over and are uncontrollable. It’s no different from a sneeze or a yawn, it just arises. And it can start as social laughter and turn into involuntary laughter.
Both types are beneficial in their own way.
“The old man laughed loud and joyously, shook up the details of his anatomy from head to foot, and ended by saying that such a laugh was money in a man’s pocket because it cut down the doctor’s bills like everything.”
Health Benefits of Laughing
The benefits of laughter are widely recognized. There’s even such a thing as laughter therapy that is used as a modality for holistic healing. The National Cancer Institute defines laughter therapy as a type of therapy that uses humor to help relieve pain and stress and improve a person’s sense of well-being. It may be used to help people cope with a serious disease, such as cancer. Laughter therapy may include laughter exercises, clowns, and comedy movies, books, games, and puzzles. It is a type of complementary therapy. Also called humor therapy.
Did you know that the average 4-year-old laughs 300 times a day while the average 40-year-old only laughs four? I spent some time wrapping books with my grandson and one of his besties last week. I love watching them together. Ever since they were little, they crack up laughing the whole time they are together. It is constant, from giggles to belly laughs.
Research shows that laughter can reduce pain, improve sleep, and increase resistance to disease. It does this by reducing stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, dopamine) and increasing healthy hormones (endorphins), neurotransmitters, and antibodies. It also improves blood flow to the heart. It literally jogs our insides, which has a list of its own benefits. When we laugh, we feel more engaged and hopeful. That even radiates to others. Laughter changes us into lighter, friendlier, more optimistic, and more alive.
Increase Your Laughter
What if just for today, you laughed like a 4-year-old? How would you feel? Can you remember the last time you laughed long and hard? You know, until you peed your pants, your sides ached, your face hurt, and you couldn’t catch your breath. If it’s been a while, try tapping into laughter.
Here are some ways to increase your daily quota:
- Connect with others that are light and love to laugh
- Watch a funny movie
- Take in a comedy act
- Reminisce with family or friends about a funny incident
- Tell some jokes
- Hang out with youngsters
Keep track and maybe even give yourself a score. Can you get to 300 laughs in a day? Life is funny. The more you lighten up, the more humorous it becomes. This changes us and shifts our mindset. And that improves our health and connections with others. What a great way to feel good!
I see you, and YOU are beautiful!
- NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. (2019). National Cancer Institute; Cancer.gov. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/laughter-therapy
- Gerloff, P. (2011). You’re Not Laughing Enough, and That’s No Joke. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-possibility-paradigm/201106/youre-not-laughing-enough-and-thats-no-joke
- Staff, Mayo Clinic. (2021, July 29). Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456
Deanna Salles-FreemanLife & Health Coach