Don’t you just somehow feel better when you laugh? It turns out, that’s not just fantasy.
Laughter has physical benefits at the cellular level. Research consistently demonstrates that a good belly laugh engages many different systems in the body.
And laughter delivers emotional health benefits as well.
Studies show that laughter
- supports the heart. If we’re laughing, we’re not stressing. The stress hormones are the root cause of heart attacks, because they damage the circulatory system.
- relaxes muscles. Good, deep breathing is part of laughing. It stimulates oxygen flow to the muscles and triggers muscle relaxation.
- lessens pain. The body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, the endorphins, are released when we laugh.
- boosts immunity. Laughter helps combat infections and other diseases by triggering better antibody response at the cellular level.
- eases mood. Laughter is emotionally distracting. It can interrupt the blues and cast everything in a new light.
Want more laughter in your life?
- Read children’s books. They are often silly (Amelia Bedelia, anyone?). Ask a librarian for recommendations. The illustrations alone may bring a chuckle.
- Look for humorous gift cards. Maybe even buy one to put on your refrigerator. In a couple of weeks, send it to a friend, and give yourself a new one!
- Play with a pet. If you don’t have a pet, find out if there’s a dog park nearby and go watch. Dogs are naturally joyful.
- Spend time with funny people. Some people have a knack for finding the humor in things. Laughter is contagious. You may even learn to laugh more at yourself!
- Choose comedy. When you’re selecting a movie to watch or a screensaver for your computer, look for something funny.
- Make silly happen at home. Dress your toast with raisin eyes and jelly mouth. Wear goofy socks. Play a game with friends.
Or, just plain start laughing. Whether you’re laughing at someone’s joke or laughing for no reason at all, your body responds the same.
Laughter is good medicine. And it’s free!
Is laughter in short supply?
If so, chances are you are doing too much. As the Roanoke and Lynchburg experts in family caregiving, we at Gentle Shepherd Hospice see many family members over-burdened, burning their candle at both ends. If it feels like a luxury to laugh, it’s time to re-evaluate. Give us a call to learn how we might help: 1-800-789-0586 (toll-free)