Laughter as Medicine

January 13, 2020

According to Forbes Magazine, research reveals that laughter is “a potent drug[…] that conveys a slew of benefits to the mind and body”. That is, laughter affects our bodies at a cellular level. A hearty laugh releases endorphins, the chemical our bodies produce to make us feel good. The same article states that “laughter has an effect similar to antidepressants” and that it triggers the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that contributes to our feelings of wellbeing and happiness.

Further, research published by the Mayo Clinic establishes that regular laughter can soothe circulation and tension, improve the immune system, and relieve pain.

The importance of laughter, with so many health benefits, is serious business. Here are a few ideas on what we can do to incorporate more laughter into our daily lives.

1.  Surround yourself with funny people, or people who aren’t afraid to laugh. We live in the age of mobile devices, so even if your schedule is jam-packed and you have to miss out on Friday night drinks with friends, take a few minutes to call your crazy Uncle Jimmy on the way to the store or Face Time your best friend from high school while you’re waiting in line at the pharmacy. If the barista at your local coffee joint joke around with the customers, but you usually mind your business, keep your head down and rush out to catch the subway. Not, this time. Engage. Smile back. Laugh it up. Just a few minutes of laughter each day can help relieve stress. 

2.  Don’t be shy. It’s easy to feel self-conscious about the way you laugh. Maybe you think you have a high-pitched hoot, or perhaps you’re embarrassed that your shoulders shake, and your laugh makes no sound at all. The good news is this: it doesn’t matter! However, you do it, laugh wholeheartedly, heartily, and with your whole body. Throw your head back. Don’t cover your mouth! Feel good about feeling good, and when something strikes your fancy, giggle your giggle with all your heart. 

3.  Search the internet. In the digital age, there is so much entertaining content on the internet. Whether you like celebrities, old school humor, silly animal videos, or a good ole’ Saturday Night Live skit, it’s out there. Take a few minutes before bed, at lunch, or even first thing in the morning to look up whatever tickles your funny bone and get your laugh-of-the-day. 

4.  Find humor in the little things. Say you bought three new boxes of cereal but ran out of milk. Your washing machine stopped working the same day your dog peed on the comforter. Or perhaps you accidentally poured salt in your coffee instead of sugar. Whatever it is, however, overwhelmed you may feel, try to find the humor in stressful situations. It will take the edge off and lighten the load a bit.  

5.  Practice laughing. It might not come naturally to you. Maybe you can’t even remember the last time you had a good laugh. So, start small. Watch a comedy routine and allow yourself to smile at a few of the jokes. Then, do a silly dance routine alone in your room. Go ahead, no one’s watching. It takes time to build new routines and habits, and incorporating laughter into a laughter-free life is no different. Please don’t put too much pressure on yourself, but remember that a little laugh goes a long way. Set a goal to chuckle once a day. 

Once your body starts to relax and respond positively, laughter will come naturally. Eventually, you may find yourself reaping the health benefits of laughter, and that, my friend, is serious business.

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