Health/Wellness

Laughter is the Best RX

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Are you feeling lowly, rundown, disappointed, or sad?  Try laughter!  Research shows that laughing just might be the best medicine, to help you  feel better.  It is just fun to share a good laugh and it can actually improve your health!  Actually laughter is strong medicine!

A good laugh makes you feel good and that good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. It helps you keep an upbeat, optimistic attitude through difficult situations, disappointments, and even loss.

The ability to laugh, play, and have fun with others not only makes life more enjoyable but also helps you resolve conflict, connect with others, and be more inspired. People who incorporate wittiness and play into their daily lives find that it renews them and all of their relationships.

The study of humor and laughter and its psychological and physiological effects on the human body, is called gelotology.  Gelotology was first studied by psychiatrists, although some doctors in antiquity recommended laughter as a form of medicine.  Initially, it was denounced by most other physicians, who distrusted that laughter possessed palliative or analgesic qualities. An early study demonstrated the effectiveness of laughter in a clinical setting showed that it could help patients with atopic dermatitis respond less to allergens.  Other studies have shown that laughter can help alleviate stress and pain, and can assist cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.     

Let’s face it; laughter is a part of human behavior. It is regulated by the brain, helping humans clarify their intentions in social interaction and providing an emotional framework to informal and formal conversations. Laughter is sometimes seen as contagious, and the laughter of one person can itself inflame it from others as positive feedback.

Laughter has been defined as a physical reaction typically of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. It is a response to certain external or internal stimuli.  Laughter can arise from such activities as being physically tickled, or from humorous stories or thoughts.  Most commonly, it is considered a visual expression of a number of positive emotional states, such as joy, cheerfulness, happiness, relief, etc. On some occasions – however, it may be caused by contrary emotional states such as embarrassment, apology, or confusion such as nervous laughter or courtesy laugh. Whether a person will experience laughter in a given situation may be contingent upon age, gender, education, language, and cultures.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

However, did you know that laughter is strong medicine for laughter is the best medicine for the mind and body?  It is the best prescription to draw people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent.

Laughter is referred to as the sweetest medicine for mind and body. Laughter is a powerful remedy for stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you to release anger and be more forgiving. Laughter allows you to be healthier to improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness, and even add years to your life.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

Laughter is contagious and this is why TV sitcoms use laugh tracks. You are more likely to laugh around other people than when you’re alone. And the more laughter you bring into your own life, the happier you and those around you will feel. A good sense of humor, a positive attitude, and the support of friends and family might play a role, as well.

The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter

Sure, it’s fun to share a good laugh. But did you know it can actually improve your health? It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body.  As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. By seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, though, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.

Physical Health Benefits of Laughter

  • Boosts and strengthens your immune system. Laughter also increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Prevents heart disease by protecting the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases circulation.
  • Yes, laughter burns calories. No it is not a replacement for going to the gym.  One study shows that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn about 40 calories, which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
  • It reduces stress by decreasing stress hormones cells and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish much more.
  • Heightens mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.
  • Relaxes your muscles thus relaxing the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Triggers the release of endorphins – the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Helps you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Emotional Health Benefits of Laughter

  • Stops distressing emotions. Eases anxiety and tension You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
  • Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
  • More than just a relief from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope.
  • Laughter is an especially powerful tool for managing conflict and reducing tension when emotions are running high.
  • Makes you feel good and that good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides.
  • Helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
  • Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious.
  • Helps you relax and recharge adding joy and zest to life.
  • Hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.
  • Shifts your perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and diffuse conflict.
  • Draws you closer to others, which can have a profound effect on all aspects of your mental and emotional health.
  • Humor  is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts
  • Strengthens resilience

Relational Benefits of Laughter

  • Improves mood and helps you to be more spontaneous. It gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.
  • Allows you to let go of defensiveness and helps you forget resentments, judgments, criticisms, and doubts.
  • Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter also adds joy, vitality, and resilience.
  • Release inhibitions and your fear of holding back and holding on are set aside.
  • Express your true feelings. Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.
  • Brings people together and strengthens relationships.
  • Use humor to resolve disagreements and tension in your relationships.
  • Attracts others to us enhances teamwork.
  • Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection.
  • Helps defuse conflict Promotes group bonding
  • Laughter can strengthen relationships and unites people during difficult times.
  • Laughing with one another creates a positive bond which acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment.

Bringing More Laughter into Your Life

Life brings challenges that can either get the best of you or become playthings for your imagination. When you “become the problem” and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box and find new solutions. But when you play with the problem, you can often transform it into an opportunity for creative learning.

Don’t go a day without laughing. Think of it like exercise or breakfast and make a conscious effort to find something each day that makes you laugh. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes and do something that amuses you. The more you get used to laughing each day, the less effort you’ll have to make.

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Barbra is an international certified holistic life coach. As a life coach, she shares prescriptions of the physical, emotional, and spiritual blockage that hinders the source of life which flows from the heartbeat of God. Barbra is an Award winning book author. Winner of Fresh Lifestyle Magazine 2017 BOOK AWARD and a PWN International Literacy Award, for her wonderful book, "Every Beat of My Heart".

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