So are there any facts to back up the claim that laughter is the best medicine? Does it heal, really? Below are some facts about laughter (not to be taken as a medical advice, but simply as interesting information about the benefits of laughter)
A Pill of Laughter Each Day Drives the Doctor Away
When was the last time you burst into a roaring laughter? It certainly felt good, right? People love to entertain and to be entertained because laughter feels good.
On the average, a person laughs about 17 times in a day. Because of this, the entertainment industry has made a good living out of making people laugh.
Many people do not mind spending a few dollars just to have a good time chuckling, giggling, or guffawing while watching a stand-up comedy or a funny movie.
Besides its entertainment value, humor is also known for its therapeutic effects on people’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
The more ha-ha-has and hee-hee-hees you have in a day, the better it is for your health. Laughter, which is the body’s response to humor, is an effective way to treat many ailments. It may not be regarded by medical professionals as the best medicine, but the best thing about laughter is that it is totally free and has no side effects. This priceless medicine can definitely improve a person’s quality of life.
Effects of laughter on the body
A good hearty laugh provides a wide range of health benefits. As a person laughs, a number of changes occur in the body. The muscles in the face and body stretch and the rate of heart beat rises. Laughter also causes a person to breathe faster, which in turn brings more oxygen to the tissues. Helping the body fight certain diseases, laughter reduces health problems connected with strokes, high blood pressure, ulcer, and arthritis.
The following are the 10 physical benefits of laughter:
Laughter Is the Best Medicine / Benefit 1: Good work out for the body
Laughter is comparable to a mild exercise because it can burn calories. In fact, a study found that 50 calories are burned with 10 to 15 minutes of laughter. This is equivalent to a couple of minutes on the exercise bike or rowing machine.
Laughter works by moving the muscles in the abdomen, lungs, diaphragm, face, back, and legs. Aside from massaging the abdominal organs, laughter can boost the strength of the muscles that secure the abdominal organs in place.
Digestion is also improved with the help of laughter, which tones the functioning of the intestines.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine / Benefit 2: Normal blood flow
People who laugh more often have normal blood flow, meaning their blood vessels easily expand and contract. But those who don’t tend to have a restricted blood flow.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine / Benefit 3: Reduced blood pressure
If you always have a good laugh, your chance of having a high blood pressure is lower than most people. When you have a hearty laugh, your blood pressure goes up at first. But then it goes down below normal levels. As a result, your breathing becomes deeper and faster, sending oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine / Benefit 4: Lower blood sugar level
Laughter can also help diabetic people decrease their blood sugar levels. This claim is supported by a study conducted on people with diabetes that determined the effects of exposure to humor on blood sugar levels.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine / Benefit 5: Improved immune response
Laughter effectively activates the immune system, which is mainly responsible for protecting the body against disease-causing elements such as viruses and bacteria. According to studies, laughter increases the body’s much-needed antibodies that fight infection.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine / Benefit 6: Reduced pain and faster healing process
The most obvious benefit of laughter is its ability to reduce pain, which can result in a faster healing process. Various studies conducted on people in discomfort show that pain did not bother them much when they were laughing. Experts say that laughter is an effective distraction from pain such as headaches, back pains, and arthritis. More often than not, people who are sick focus their energies on their pain, causing their muscles to become tensed. When these people are distracted by laughter, their muscles relax and their body is relieved from pain.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine / Benefit 7: Enhanced brain activity
Did you know that laughter can help improve memory and learning? Laughter stimulates the brain and keeps it alert, helping people retain more information.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine / Benefit 8: Relaxed muscles and lower stress levels
As a person laughs, the muscles that are not involved with laughing tend to relax. Once the laughter has finished, the muscles involved in the laughter begin to relax as well. Because laughter can ease tensed muscles, it is also known to relieve people from stress.
Laughter Is the Best Medicine / Benefit 9: Improved respiratory function
Laughing frequently is beneficial for people with respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Laughter has a cleansing effect on the lungs—it empties the organ of more air, leading to a deeper breathing.
Laughter Is the Best medicine / Benefit 10: Reduced risk of heart disease
When it comes to protecting your heart, you could say it could be considered that laughter is the best medicine. In fact, a study found that people suffering from heart ailments were less likely to laugh in various daily life situations than those without heart disease.
Just how laughter works to protect the heart is not yet confirmed by experts, but some of them explain that laughter causes the muscles in the diaphragm to move, which is good for the heart. Laughter can also induce in the brain the release of hormones such as endorphins that produce positive effect on the arteries. To ensure the optimal health of your heart, medical experts recommend that you laugh for 15 minutes everyday and work out thrice a week.
Mental and emotional benefits of laughter
Laughter does not only benefit the body, it also improves a person’s emotional and mental well-being. A good sense of humor serves as an effective emotional medicine that reduces stress. When faced with tough and exasperating situations, people can uplift their mood simply by using humor. The ability to laugh at yourself can turn difficult problems into more manageable ones. Also, humor gives people a good feeling and a chance to relate to like-minded individuals. According to mental health experts, humor helps people cope with stressful situations. Here are several benefits that laughter can provide to a person’s mental and emotional health.
- Humor helps people connect with others. People with the same kind of humor are more likely to bond and enjoy each other’s company.
- Humor improves a person’s ability to interact with others. Being able to laugh often leads to the ability to talk more and to make more eye contact with other people.
- When you experience humor frequently, chances are your negative feelings such as depression, hatred, guilt, and anxiety will be replaced with positive ones.
- Laughing more often can definitely make you feel good, thus helping you develop a positive outlook in life.
Humor therapy: laughter that heals
Although laughter does not directly cure diseases as medical experts believe, humor therapy has been used to treat serious diseases such as cancer. As early as the 13th century, doctors used humor as an anesthetic to relieve patients from the pain caused by surgery.
Nowadays, a lot of hospitals and treatment centers throughout the United States have certain rooms filled with humorous materials such as books, sound recordings, puzzles, and games. These materials help patients keep their anxieties, fears, and discomfort at bay. In addition to that, volunteers visit patients and provide them with humor items such as rubber chickens and water pistols. Volunteers give patients a reason to laugh and enjoy life despite the harrowing conditions they experience. There are also cancer treatment centers that use humor therapy to treat their patients aside from the usual treatments.
How to develop your sense of humor
Now that you are aware of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of laughter, you might be thinking of ways to use your sense of humor in your everyday life.
Finding humor in any situation is easier than it seems. If you find it hard to chuckle once even for just one day, here are a few tips to help you start laughing your way to a healthier life.
- Smile—it is where laughter starts. A smile is just as infectious as laughter. You can smile even if you do not find something funny in a situation. Smiling is very easy; you just flash your teeth while thinking of any pleasant thing. Practice smiling whenever you see a pleasant person or thing.
- Seek out any laughter that you hear. Usually, laughter and humor are not private among a small group of people. When you hear laughter, do not hesitate to approach the group and ask what is funny. Oftentimes, people are willing to share a funny joke or story since it gives them the chance to laugh again.
- Rid yourself of negative thoughts. Make a list of good things that have happened to you, and be thankful for those positive things. Avoiding negative thoughts is a good start in developing your sense of humor.
- Spend more time with people who have a great sense of humor. Humor and laughter are contagious, and it’s great to be surrounded by people who love to laugh. These people take a positive view on life, thus they do not take things too seriously. These people may influence your outlook and your humor. Also, it is advisable to spend less time with overly serious people.
- Lighten up and loosen up! Being too serious can only weigh you down and make it hard for you to see the brighter side of things. Never be ashamed to laugh at yourself. Sharing your funny and embarrassing moments to others can send you and others in a roaring laughter. It is one of the best ways to take yourself less seriously. Rather than grumble about every frustrating situation, it is healthier and more enjoyable to find humor in the situation and laugh at it. Soon, you will realize that your mood becomes lighter each day.
- Another great way to develop your humor is to try to be like a child. Children, unlike adults, take life lightly and see things in an uncomplicated manner. Moreover, children laugh a lot. Childlike innocence is what many serious people lack, and that makes them even more prone to stress. Try to act and think a bit like a child, and you will find yourself enjoying the perks of a hearty laughter.
- Find ways to cope with stress. Stress is a major barrier to laughter and humor. If you allow stress to get the best of you, you are in for a miserable, depressing, humor-free life. There are a lot of ways to deal with stress. You can do some relaxation exercises or learn a new sport. Having enough sleep and a balanced diet can help you recover from stress easily. Do every means to relax yourself so that you can ease your tension. That way, it will be easier for you to laugh.
- Make it a habit to laugh everyday. That does not mean you should force yourself to laugh—you just need to make an extra effort to laugh. Here is how to do it: go to a quiet and private place and then laugh out loud for a few minutes twice a day. You will feel silly and awkward at first, but keep practicing until you get comfortable with it. You will surely benefit from the stimulating effects of laughter.
- Like reading and writing, humor can be learned. Take your cues from comedy TV shows and movies. Read comic books, visit comedy clubs, and listen to comic radio programs while driving. Find every opportunity to expose yourself to laughter-inducing moments. You may soon pick up some funny lines that you can use to amuse your friends and coworkers.
- Finally, practice your sense of humor. Your friends will definitely appreciate that. Share a hilarious situation you encountered on the street or a funny anecdote or joke that you have read from the newspaper. When having conversations, ask people about the funniest moments they recently had. For sure, they will be more than glad to share their own funny stories to you. The sound of your friends’ laughter may be enough to send you into a non-stop laughing fit.
All in all, laughter offers a wide array of health benefits without costing you a single penny (so laughter is the best medicine in that respect that it is free!). Aside from being safe, laughter lessens your chance of getting sick and allows you to enjoy life fully. So laugh hard and do it more often!
So do you think laughter is the best medicine? At least it has many benefits to your health - but never forget to consult your doctor!
I feel that in making life easier and more joyful to live, laughter IS the best medicine. With a little humor we get enough strength to raise our eyes and see life from a broader perspective.
Not to mention that laughter is catching. If you really laugh heartily, others usually start laughing too and laughter makes everyone feel better. You might even say that in connecting people laughter is the best medicine also. Or what do you think?
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