Laughter IS The Best Medicine
Have you laughed lately?
If not, get out of your serious self and loosen up.
Laughter is a powerful tool for combating stress and conflict. It can dissipate anger, sadness and other negative emotions. In addition to making you feel good, laughter can improve your health and make your relationships with others closer and stronger. There are a wide variety of benefits to be gained by making daily laughter a priority.
Many studies have shown that laughter can boost your energy level and reduce stress. These are just a few of the ways that laughter can improve your health:
- Laughter is relaxing. A good session of laughing can relieve muscle tension and make you feel more relaxed. This in turn can calm you and bring a general sense of well being.
- Laughter can boost your immune system. Infection-fighting antibodies are released when you laugh. Stress hormones are decreased as laughter reduces stress.
- Laughter can reduce chronic pain. Medical studies have shown that 10 minutes of laughter can diminish chronic pain for up to 2 hours.
- Laughter can improve your creativity. You can face challenges with more perspective with a good sense of humor. This leads to more creative problem solving.
The physical benefits of laughter can lead to an improved outlook on life. Laughter can bring optimism and a more positive attitude. It can also bring resiliency that will help you bounce back from disappointments and survive tough times. Laughter will leave you feeling energized and renewed, ready to face life’s daily stresses without being overwhelmed.
Laughter is a contagious social activity. When people are in a group and they hear someone laughing, they often join in spontaneously. Laughing with other people helps us to make a connection with them, opening the door to communication and creating a bond. When two people in a relationship share a common sense of humor, it can reduce stress between them and defuse conflict. By introducing more humor and playfulness into your relationships, you can strengthen them and make them more satisfying.
How can laughter help a relationship?
People who incorporate humor and playfulness into their relationships are able to drop some of their inhibitions and defensiveness. This allows them to enjoy more spontaneity and a deeper emotional connection. When laughter and humor are used to defuse conflict, negative emotions like resentment and anger don’t get a chance to build up. In fact, laughter and a shared sense of humor are nothing less than essential for strong and healthy relationships.
Children laugh hundreds of times per day, but as adults we can sometimes go through an entire day without sharing a heartfelt laugh. Maybe you’ve started taking life very seriously as you’ve gotten older, or maybe anxiety and stress have taken their toll on your ability to appreciate humor. Or maybe you grew up in a household where humor and laughter weren’t encouraged. This doesn’t mean that you can’t start now and learn how to make laughter an important part of your life.
Like all of life’s most important skills, humor can be learned and rediscovered. I’m not suggesting that you start to act like a child again, but you can learn something about laughter and humor by setting aside time to develop your playful side.
Here are 10 activities that will help increase your ability
to laugh, play and have fun.
- Smile more often. A smile is the first step towards laughter and is equally contagious. Make a conscious effort to smile more and laughter will follow.
- Spend more time with happy people. It’s easier to laugh and feel happy when you’re surrounded by people who know how to have fun. Seek out friends who are playful and like to laugh.
- Use funny stories to lighten your mood. Pay attention to the funny stories that other people share and learn how to tell your own. Appreciate the humor in daily experiences and share it with friends.
- Introduce humor when it’s appropriate. Lighten up conversations by introducing an element of humor. Initiate conversations that are funny and playful.
- Enjoy inside jokes with friends. Sharing private jokes with another person brings you closer. Bringing up a private joke is a good way to re-experience the humor of the moment.
- Seek out entertainment with humor. Watch comedy movies. Rent some classic comedy films and enjoy them with friends. Go to a comedy club. Check out humorous books and comic strips. The culture of comedy is infectious and will improve your sense of humor.
- Have a laugh at your own expense. When appropriate, share your embarrassing moments with others. This can help you take yourself a little less seriously.
- Be playful and silly. Have a water fight, take part in some horseplay, indulge a case of the giggles. It’s all part of lightening up.
- Play games with friends. Whether its board games or sports, keep the atmosphere low-key, fun and non-competitive. Just play for the fun of it and have some laughs along the way.
- Spend time with children. We can learn a lot from their sense of play and laughter. Put aside your “adult” thinking and try to see things through their eyes.
As you incorporate laughter into your life, you may find yourself becoming more creative.
When you know how to lighten up and take yourself less seriously, you become less worried about making mistakes. Having a sense of playfulness allows you to explore various solutions to a problem. When your state of mind is relaxed and open to possibility, new ideas have a chance to develop. Daily laughter and a good sense of humor will help keep life interesting.
When you take time to bring more laughter into your life, you’ll see positive changes in many areas. Life will become more enjoyable, and you’ll find it easier to connect with other people. Your relationships will benefit as you bond with friends and loved ones through your sense of humor.
A few fun facts about laughter…
- Laughing only 15 minutes a day can help you lose weight. Scientists at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee have discovered that a daily dose of laughter can burn up to five pounds of fat over a year. 10 to 15 minutes of laughter can increase energy expenditure by 10 to 40 calories per day.
- Laughter is contagious. Researchers at University College London found that hearing laughter and other positive sounds triggers a response in the area of the brain that’s activated when we smile.
- Laughter stimulates the body. A good hearty laugh stimulates your organs, soothes tension and tummy aches, improves the immune system, relieves pain and increases overall personal satisfaction, according to a Mayo Clinic advisory on stress.
- Laughter fights infections. Research has found that higher levels of salivary immunoglobulin (an antibody that fights infections organisms entering the respiratory tract) were found in the saliva of people who watched funny videos or had experienced good moods.
- Laughter boosts killer cells. After watching an hour long video of slapstick comedy, researchers have found that the “natural killer cells” which seek out and destroy malignant cells more actively attacked tumor cells in test tubes. These types of effects lasted up to 12 hours.
Arm yourself with the power of laughter and you’ll be ready to take on whatever challenges life brings your way.
Laughter IS the best medicine.
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
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Posted on October 12, 2009