Laughter is a Powerful Natural Medicine–
Laughter is no joke! I first learned the seriousness of laughter when my late husband was dying from cancer. Friends and family brought us piles of funny movies. Whenever he was in the hospital, the nurses kept the TV in his room on the comedy channel. I remember we watched his favorite comedies “Oh God” and “Dumb and Dumber” over and over again! Laughter was good for all of us. It helped us communicate and focus on the joy in the moment.
Looking back, our caregivers were very intentional about including humor in Paul’s cancer treatment journey. In the many years since Paul passed, I’ve learned a lot about the science-based, therapeutic benefits of humor. Humor affects the biochemistry in our bodies. It affects our mind, body and heart. Laughter is a powerful natural medicine we can give ourselves every day to live Well with Zest!
My Top 7 Reasons to Keep Laughing
I’ve gathered up what I’ve learned about laughter. Here are my top 7 reasons to keep laughing!
1. Laughter Strengthens the Immune System
Building a strong immune system is necessary whether you have a chronic illness or you’re a professional athlete in training. A hearty dose of laughter each day can do wonders for your immune system. Laughing can help prevent getting sick in the first place. This happens because laughter actually helps reduce stress hormones and inflammation in your body. Stress is a major trigger that contributes to many types of chronic illnesses. It’s great to know that you can help relieve stress and inflammation in the body with simple laughter.
2. Laughter Releases Endorphins
Endorphins are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. They are also natural painkillers. This means that regular laughter may be able to reduce chronic pain. Releasing these types of chemicals into your body may also reduce depression. There are at least 20 different types of endorphins in your body. The sooner you start laughing the sooner your body can release these feel-good hormones.
3. Laughter Reduces Stress
Our fast-paced culture tends to produce a lot of stress and with it anger. Whenever you’re frustrated or angry at another person, a little bit of humor can go a long way. Laughter helps diffuse a negative, tense situation. It’s hard for people to stay mad at each other when they’re laughing. Reducing anger is one of the most important mental health benefits of laughter.
4. Laughter Helps the Heart
Laughing can provide a great cardio workout. If you’re not able to do a regular workout, try laughing. Laughing increases blood flow to your heart, which can help lead to overall good health. Laughter can make your heart pump at a rate that will burn calories similar to walking at a slow pace. Laughing can also lower your blood pressure. That can help keep your heart healthy and prevent a heart attack or stroke.
5. Laughter Boosts Resilience
Humor can help us spring back from a painful situation. Humor helps us boost our psychological resilience. When we learn to laugh when we are facing a difficult situation, we strengthen our ability to master the challenges in life. When we learn to change our mental channel to the “Comedy Channel”, we learn to change our outlook and use the power of positivity to help get through the tough times in life. Laughter is like continuing education that helps us become a master at surfing through the everyday challenges of life with a smile on our face.
6. Laughter Improves Memory
Laughing can help lower cortisol levels in the brain which helps with higher recall ability and learning ability. Scientists continue to study the link between humor and memory. So, when you are watching funny videos, you are actually working on your memory skills too.
7. Laughter Makes Life Fun
One of the most important reasons to laugh is that it’s enjoyable. It can reduce stress and make life more fun. Laughing is something that regardless of age, culture, or background is innate to all humans. We are born with a built-in sense of humor and all we have to do is use it to live a healthy, happy life. Many people remain unaware of our innate sense of humor and of the importance of using it for health and happiness. Whether it’s with family, friends, a co-worker, or that person you just met in the grocery store line, sharing a laugh will make your life healthier and happier.
Laugh Every Day!
If an apple a day can help keep the doctor away, then laughter every day can help keep chronic disease away (or at least diminished). With so many health benefits of humor, it’s time to turn up the laughter in our lives. Get those comedy videos out. Read (and save) cartoons. Listen to humor podcasts. Go to your stand-up comedy theatre. Watch children playing in the park–and see how they spontaneously hop, skip and laugh. Look at funny pictures of animals. Visit to the zoo and watch the funniest animals in action, just being themselves. Or hang out with your funny human friends. There are endless ways to stimulate more laughter to help relieve stress, reduce anger, boost immunity, release those wonderful endorphins that make us feel good, and strengthen our hearts and minds both physically and figuratively.
Laugh and Live Well with Zest!
Written by Bev Hope
Reviewed by Board Certified MD