One of the greatest joys of being human is laughter. Laughing not only feels good, but research has found laughter to be good for your physical and mental health. Our Integrative Health Specialist, Dr. Desmonette Hazly, recently presented a workshop on stress management and laughter, and discussed how laughing and humor are important components in successfully managing stress and improving and maintaining overall health.
When we laugh, our body and brain experience many power positive reactions. A study by the Mayo Clinic found that when we laugh, we activate responses that enhance our physical and mental well-being. These biological responses include:
- Stimulation of many organs. Laughter improves your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by the brain.
- Activates and relieves stress response. A good laugh cranks up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. The ending result is a good, relaxed feeling.
- Soothe tension. Laughter can stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
- Improve the immune system. Laughter and positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
So, the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and under-the-weather, try having a laugh. It will do the mind and body a lot of good.