When people talk about using laughter as a way to reduce stress, they always trot out the same old cliché: “Laughter is the best medicine.” I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous to say (again), but studies have shown that laughter really is good for your body and overall health! Prolonged exposure to funny things like comedic shows, movies, and even just things that make you smile cause a wealth of short-term and long-term benefits for your body and mind – and might just change your life for the better in the process. And what better time to cheer yourself up than with some laughter as the autumn begins?
Improve Your Body
- Strengthen Your Immune System: We know that having negative thoughts and stress can take their toll on your body, and in some ways can make pre-existing problems with your body even worse. Laughing and positive thoughts release neuropeptides, endorphins, and other hormones that strengthen your immune response. A good bout of laughter also triggers an increase in cells that produce antibodies and boosts the effects of T-cells in your body, overall reducing the effects of stress on your body.
- The Outside Stimulates Your Insides: Those endorphins produced by laughter aren’t just good for your immune system, but they’re also great for helping to ease pain (including breaking the pain and spasm cycle caused by some muscle disorders). The increased oxygen intake means that organs like your lungs and heart are stimulated at the same time endorphins are released, making you feel better. You also work out your ab muscles and relax your other muscles. The best feeling is having sore stomach muscles after a full night of laughing!
- Overall Relaxation: According to the Mayo Clinic, a fit of laughing activates and then alleviates your stress response, meaning an increase in blood pressure and heart rate – then it cools down to make you feel relaxed. The stimulation of circulation in your body relaxes your muscles so you can let go of some of the physical ways stress manifests in your body.
Improve Your Mind
- Sharpen Your Sense of Humor: Seeking out things in life that make you laugh is a great way to help develop your own sense of humor. In fact, you can look at watching comedic art in any form as a different way to develop your creative side in a humorous way. If you keep a journal or notebook for writing handy, try writing about a funny story in your life or writing some funny dialogue. See if you can make someone else laugh!
- Take on Any Situation: Everybody’s got their own coping mechanisms when they’re dealing with tough problems in their lives, and people who laugh can cope better when the going gets rough. It can also strengthen the bonds with your friends and family, creating fond memories you can carry with you for the rest of your life. The little things really do become little things with a sense of humor!
How Do You Get More Humor in Your Life?
- Seek Out Humor: The Internet is a treasure trove of free humor! From satire sites to comic troupes and stand-up comedians putting free content on YouTube, you can find funny stuff everywhere. Make a “Humor” folder in your browser’s bookmarks so you have a place to go have a laugh when you’re feeling down and need a little boost. If you’re starting to feel a little down, renting a comedic movie or queuing up a stand-up routine or funny TV show on your streaming media of choice can give you instant comfort while providing laughs. (My favorite movie when I’m feeling down is “The Princess Bride,” by the way!)
- Hang Out with Funny Friends and Family: They say that you are who you hang out with, and if you have humorous friends or family, make it a habit to hang out with them as much as possible. Of course, keep in mind that everybody’s sense of humor may be different, so if you have friends whose senses of humor might be a little weird, don’t force yourself to hang out with people you feel uncomfortable with! If you’re still working on your humorous side, you can use the hangout time to sharpen your funny skills.
What are humorous things you do to relieve stress? Like us on Facebook and tell us!
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