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Imagine you’re at work, sitting at your desk, struggling to meet an unrealistic deadline. Before you can deal with the matter in front of you, a text arrives from your husband or wife about an unfolding drama at home.
You sit up straight and try to focus, but then an email alert from a credit card company about a missed payment catches your attention.
Then, without any warning, the absurdity of all this external stress washes over you, and you start laughing. Everyone has experienced similar moments, laughing in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
This physical release of laughter doesn’t dissolve our problems, but it might change our perspective and lighten our emotional load. In fact, science has shown that laughter can even be considered a biological pressure release.
Laughter Therapy (or Humor Therapy) is used by Cancer Treatment Centers of America to help aid in the healing process.
Even the real-life Patch Adams preferred laughter as therapy over some traditional forms of medicine for treating patients and helping doctors be more effective in their bedside manner.
10 Reasons Why Laughter is Good for Your Health
1. Laughter Releases Endorphins
The physical act of laughing increases the amount of endorphins in the brain. These feel-good chemicals have broad physiological affects, such as alleviating physical pain.
2. Reduction of Cortisol and Epinephrine
The chemical reaction in the brain relating to laughter actually reduces levels of Cortisol, Epinephrine and Dopac in the brain. All three of these elements are related to the levels of stress that a person is experiencing.
3. Decreases Inflammation
Believe it or not, laughter can reduce inflammation. A recent study showed that one to two months of laughing regularly increased a control group’s good cholesterol (HDL) and decreased the amount of c-reactive protein, a protein that’s associated with inflammation in the body, in their blood.
4. Improves Circulation
How about an internal organ massage? It sounds strange, but a good belly-laugh does in fact massage our internal organs and improve circulation to important areas of the body.
5. Increases Alertness
Laughter helps you stay alert. By clearing the lungs and then breathing deeply, as happens when people laugh, our sensitive internal tissue, including the brain, are receiving more oxygen, which translates to a higher state of focus.
6. Exercises Stomach Muscles
Have you ever laughed so hard that your stomach hurt? A proper guffaw can exercise your abdominal muscles and increase your heart rate similar to cardiovascular exercise.
7. Burns Calories
A university study on laughter even showed that people can burn as many as 40 calories from simply laughing for 10 to 15 minutes over the course of an entire day.
8. Boosts Immunity
Chuckling also boosts your immune system. It increases T-cell activity in the body. These cells are what help our bodies fight off infections, viruses, and even tumors.
9. Decreases Blood Sugar Levels
Regular laughter can actually decrease blood sugar levels. A study performed on diabetics had them attend a lecture directly after a meal. On the follow day, after eating the same exact meal, they watched a comedy. The entire group had lower blood sugar levels on the second day, after getting a good laugh.
10. Helps Get Restful Sleep
Since laughing can help reduce overall stress and improve relaxation, a healthy dose of laughter might also lend itself to getting a better night’s rest.
Realistically, it’s not always easy to laugh on command, but being aware of how helpful humor can be in our overall health and wellbeing is a positive first step, and a compelling reason to start looking for some good laughs.
Laughter Therapy can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, and there’s even laughter yoga now.
Instead of watching the news or a TV drama, opt for a good comedy instead during or after dinner each night. It might relieve some stress and put you on the road to happiness and better health.