Can the chortling, sniggering sound of laughter be the answer to stress, loneliness, and depression? You might be pleasantly surprised at how much you can achieve by smiling and laughing your way through each day. Laugher lowers stress hormones, increases our heart rate, helps us breathe more deeply, and stretches many different muscles in our face and upper body.
A positive attitude will not only help us feel better, it also has a general beneficial effect on our health. Laugher lowers stress hormones, increases our heart rate, helps us breathe more deeply, and stretches many different muscles in our face and upper body. Laughter really is good for you, and scientists have now begun to prove what everyone else takes for granted. The study of humour and laughter is gelotology, from the Greek gelos, geloto meaning laugh, laughter, laughing.
What is Laughing?
Laughter is not only a simple response to comedy; laughter is a hidden language we all speak that binds people together. Smiling, laughing and tickling might have evolved to create bonds between babies and parents. Laughter is a series of short vowel-like syllables usually transcribed as “ha-ha,” “ho-ho” or “hee-hee.” These syllables are part of the universal human vocabulary, produced and recognized by people of all cultures. Monkey and apes have some facial expressions that are similar to human smiles.
The Giggle Gym
Laughing is good for the heart and the lungs, it increases the amount of oxygen in the body and this in turn, is good for the respiratory system. Researcher has estimated that a good laugh produces an increase in heart rate that is equivalent to ten minutes on a rowing machine or fifteen minutes on an exercise bike. The expectation of laughter is enough to increase the production of endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller. The level of some stress hormones is lowered, such as cortisol and other important stress fighting chemicals are released. Laughter requires the coordination of many muscles throughout the body: a long bout of laughter is similar to an aerobic workout. It gives your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a workout. Laughter also provides a boost to the immune system, which helps us fight off diseases. Laughing is a way of releasing stored up negative emotions. Jokes increases our sense of belonging, and by psychologically connecting us with others, feelings of alienation, a major factor in depression, is counteracted.
Laughter and Brain
There is no specific brain centre for laugher, rather a network of different areas are involved. The areas of the brain involving in understanding why a joke is funny are the area mainly located towards the back of the frontal lobes. People who have damaged this part of the brain often lose their sense of humour. Parts of the limbic system are also involved in understanding of a joke: limbic system is the primitive part of the brain that is involved in emotions and helps us with basic functions necessary for survival. It is believed that laughter is an ancient behaviour, and that the physical act of laughter is generated by a mechanism that modifies respiration: this enables the “ha-ha” sound.