Laughter is an innate ability that we are all born with. Some of us are able to develop it into adulthood, while some let it dwindle under the force of daily stresses and worries. However, there is now a growing body of research available to suggest that laughter might actually have some therapeutic value. In other words, in many ways, laughter is the best medicine.
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” – E. E. Cummings
Here are just some of the reasons why laughter is the best medicine:
- Stress relief. When we laugh, we trigger the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals. These relieve stress and cause a general sense of well-being within us.
- Relaxation. Laughter physically relaxes our muscles, relieving us of tiredness.
- Immunity. By increasing the infection-fighting antibodies in our blood and decreasing the level of stress hormones, laughter helps to improve our immunity.
- Good for the heart. Laughter improves blood flow and boosts overall cardiac functioning.
- Improves longevity. A Norwegian research team studied the link between sense of humour and mortality and found that high scores on humour were associated with low scores on death from heart disease and infection.
Apart from these benefits of laughter on physical health, there are also significant positive impacts on mental health. Laughter can help us deal better with distress – it is difficult to feel sad or angry when you are laughing. By reducing stress and anxiety, laughter can help us focus better and be more productive. Apart from helping with relaxation, laughter also creates a psychological distance from a distressing situation, helping us to deal better with it. In addition, shared laughter can bring people together.
Humour allows us to see things in a more positive light and helps to deal better with difficult situations in life. Even an extremely tense or distressing situation can be lightened a little if one is willing to see some humour in it. Naturally, this isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and here is where the concept of shared laughter and the contagiousness of laughter can help. When you’re unable to find something funny, and need help, you can turn to another person to help you out. That person could be a friend with a good sense of humour, or a funny book, or a Youtube video of your favourite stand-up comic.
Nowadays, more and more medical practitioners have also started believing in the power of laughter therapy, especially for patients with chronic pain. It has been found that laughter helps people better withstand pain. Certain cancer hospitals in America have even started using laughter clubs as part of an integrative treatment approach, to help patients cope better as they go through intensive conventional treatments.
So in many ways you see, laughter really is the best medicine.
“We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.” – William James
How do you incorporate this daily medicine into your life?
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