Laughter triggers the release of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins.
You’ve heard the saying before: “Laughter is the best medicine.” However, it’s more than just a saying. It’s an old adage that, for years, has been scientifically proven. Not only does laughter decrease stress levels, but it also combats mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety, boosts your immunity, increases your resilience, and even relieves pain.
So just how can laughter improve your health, exactly?
Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, explains below.
If you’re going through a stressful time, a little bit of laughter goes a long way and can make you feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. When you laugh, the muscles contract and increase blood flow as well as oxygenation. As a result, this stimulation can leave you feeling more relaxed on both an emotional as well as a physical level. When it comes to resilience laughter is also key. The more you laugh, the happier you are. The happier you are, the less you’ll focus on the negative and instead focus more on the positive, which means you’ll only be setting yourself up for success rather than failure.
Similarly, laughter has also helped many individuals suffering from chronic pain. While laughter doesn’t necessarily lessen the amount of pain an individual might be experiencing, it does work as a good (albeit temporary) distraction, and can reduce your perceived pain levels, which provides you with better coping skills.
It has also been suggested that laughter can boost immunity. According to a 2003 study done by the Western Kentucky University, laughter was thought to not only decrease your risk of coming down with recurring colds and flu viruses, but could also increase cancer-killing white blood cells.
Spending time with friends is almost always a sure-fire way to get some laughter in, whether it’s through inside jokes or just random conversation. You can also introduce more laughter in your life by watching a comedy or reading a funny book; and, believe it or not, laughter yoga also exists. While finding humour in tough situations can oftentimes prove to be difficult, happiness is an important factor when it comes to your mental health. If you are feeling down and depressed to the point where you cannot function and carry on with your day to day activities, seeking the help of a medical professional (such as your family physician, a psychologist or psychiatrist) can have many benefits.