Laughter and a sense of humor are good for your emotional, physical, and spiritual health. According to Paul E. McGee. Ph.D., “Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” The ability to laugh at your own mistakes is associated with mental flexibility and the ability to shift perspective. This can be an invaluable tool to leading a more satisfying and fulfilling life. Let’s take a closer look at more health benefits of laughter…
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1. Laughter Promotes Relaxation
Having a sense of humor and laughing relieves physical tension and stress. It stimulates circulation and helps your muscles relax. This in turn assists in relieving some of the symptoms of stress.
The positive relaxation effects can last for up to 45-minutes after a bout of good, hardy laughter. When you laugh, endorphins are released into the blood stream. These natural pain relievers promote a sense of relaxation and wellbeing.
2. Laughter Boosts Your Immune System
The act of laughing decreases the secretion of epinephrine and cortisol. It reduces stress, promotes relaxation and improves circulation. Deep belly laughter is positively linked to the lymphatic and immune systems.
Dr. Shields, MD is quoted as saying, “deep diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the cleansing of the lymph system by creating a vacuum effect which pulls the lymph through the bloodstream. This increases the rate of toxic elimination by as much as 15 times the normal rate.”
3. Laughter Improves Your Mood
When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, interferon-gamma (IFN), and serotonin. These are nature’s own feel good chemicals and are responsible for helping to keep your mood uplifted. Your mood in turn has a contagion effect on those around you.
When you are happy you attract good vibrations from others. If your mood is upbeat you are empowered to make more positive choices when confronted with life’s challenges.
4. Laughter Prevents Heart Disease
A study at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that people with cardiac disease laughed 40-percent less at life situations than those without cardiac disease.
According to Dr. Michael Miller, MD laughter may have a protective effect. “We don’t know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up and ultimately a heart attack.”
5. Laughter Shifts Your Perspective
Laughter allows us to entertain the absurd and imagine alternate possibilities. It stretches our imaginations and helps us to see things from various angles. It allows you to visualize situations in a more realistic and less threatening light.
By creating psychological distance laughter allows you to feel safe when confronted with anxiety provoking life situations. Laughter allows an individual faced with an otherwise overwhelming crisis to relax and see things from a different perspective.
6. Laughter Has Social Benefits
Laughing together with other people fosters emotional connections. It improves co-operation, communication and romance. A study by Gray, Parkinson and Dunbar, 2015, found that laughter subconsciously increased people’s willingness to disclose information to others.
Various studies have found a correlation between laughter and positive patient outcomes, reduced hostility in schizophrenic patients, lower levels of psychopathology, and positive provider-patient interactions. The bottom line is that no matter how you look at it, laughter is good for you.