Laughter might really be the best medicine. Studies out of the University of Chicago show a great sense of humor can add 8 years to your life—no joke! It’s comes as little surprise then, that hospitals are employing techniques of laughter therapy in an effort to get people well. It might involve the use of clowns, humor rooms, and roaming carts full of funny books and games. Bernie Siegel, M.D., says studies also show even cancer patients who laugh live longer—it doesn’t even have to feel funny.
Need more reasons to laugh? Look no further.
Laughter’s Positive Effects on Your Body
- It triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
- It protects the heart. Laughing improves the circulation, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
- It decreases cortisol (stress hormones) and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, giving you more resistance to disease.
- It lets you relax and release. A good belly laugh relieves physical tension and stress, with relaxation effects lasting for up to 45 minutes!
Laughter’s Positive Effects on Your Mind
- Humor shifts perspective, so you can see situations in a more realistic, less intimidating light. A humorous point of view also allows for psychological distance, which can prevent feelings of overwhelm.
- You can’t feel angry, anxious, or sad when you’re laughing! Laughter disarms upsetting emotions.
- Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It both calms you and increases energy, which lets you to stay focused and accomplish more.
Laughter’s Positive Effects on Your Social Wellbeing
- Laughing helps you get out of your head and be more spontaneous. You temporarily forget your troubles!
- It helps you express your true feelings—deeply felt emotions rise to the surface and are released, which feels cathartic.
- Defensiveness falls by the wayside when you chuckle. Laughter helps you forget judgments, criticisms, and doubts.
- It let’s you release control for a moment. Your fear of holding back take a backseat.
Life is truly absurd, so by embracing your inner jester you might find yourself better able to derive health benefits from it. Because, as Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
Laughter Is the Best Medicine by Jean-Paul Bell
Author’s content used under license, © 2012 Sprouted Content, LLC