Laugh Out Loud

Spending time with people who make me laugh is one of my favorite things to do. It leaves me feeling lighter, happier and more energetic. No wonder humorous people are popular. And now this time tested feel-good effect of laughter has scientific credibility.

Laughter releases hormones called endorphins which act as natural anti-depressants and produce a sense of wellbeing. It helps create a positive mood and boosts the general feeling of happiness. At the same time, laughter also reduces the level of the hormone cortisol. Commonly called the “stress hormone,” cortisol levels increase when we are under a high amount of anxiety or stress. As a result, the dual benefit of laughter is extremely useful in destressing and helping the mind to relax.

Though the primary benefit of laughter is a general feeling of wellness, there are numerous other health benefits. Multiple independent studies and research conducted by reputable universities have concluded that laughter helps:

  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Lower heart rate
  • Alleviate depression
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Improve recall abilities – especially in older adults

Next time you are hurt, remember that laughing your pain away works! Laughter can act as a natural pain killer as it deviates your attention from the physical pain. Having a sense of humor is also linked creativity and known to promote out of the box thinking. And as an added benefit for all of the calorie conscious people, laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day also burns 10-40 calories!

Do we laugh often enough to harness all these numerous perks of laughter? Probably not but now we know and can do something about it. Even if you are not someone who typically laughs a lot – fear not. You can reap all these benefits from scheduling some time to laugh. Yes, you heard that right. Research has shown that forced or performed laughter is as beneficial as genuine laughter.

Need help having a good laugh? You could try “Laughter Yoga” which is a system of exercises that employs forced laughter and breathing techniques to improve your health and wellbeing.  Another way to gain the benefits from laughter is by creating a comic relief corner. Fill a space with books, movies, comics, and videos – anything that makes you laugh. Schedule some time every day to consciously spend time laughing.

Laughter may not be the universal cure for all your problems but it definitely helps. It not only makes us feel good but it forges a bond with the people with whom you share a laugh. Laughing over shared experiences or even making light of common issues promotes a sense of belonging and social acceptance. When you laugh you are not worried about yesterday or tomorrow, you are fully living the moment. It is cathartic, liberating and therapeutic. So, laugh often and make the world laugh with you. Even with all our differences, we are all together in the pursuit of health and happiness.