We’ve all heard the phrase, "laughter is the best medicine." Research not only confirms, but explains why.
It’s no pun; a good laugh does more than tickle your soul. There are many health benefits to gain from exercising your funny bone. Tapping into your sense of humor just might be more important than diet when considering the short and long-term properties. Laughter is nature’s cure for many ailments with measureable positive results. Consider a good laugh as a mini workout for your brain and your internal plumbing.
Modern living is full of stressors, but how we deal with stress can affect our sense of wellbeing and prevent burnout in the workplace, and even alleviate tension in our personal relationships. In all its forms, stress increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and creates a flood of adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones to be released. With a multitude of causes and physical symptoms, it is important to know how to recognize and manage stress when it occurs. Unmanaged stress can lead to coronary heart disease, immune disorders, and many other medical complaints including gastrointestinal problems and mental health disorders.
So how can laughter help?
The short-term benefits of having a good laugh include
1. Increased oxygen intake: This stimulates internal organs, including the brain.
2. Increased release of endorphins: These are neurotransmitters in the brain which reduce perception to pain and stress.
THE RESULT: Relaxation. By stimulating organs and releasing feel-good hormones, the end result is a reduction of the physical symptoms of stress.
Brain cell(s) (Photo credit: jepoirrier)
The long-term benefits of having a good laugh include
1. Better Stress-Management
2. Improved Immune System
3. Natural Pain Relief
THE RESULT: Stressful situations do not have the same negative impact than if we could not find humor in a situation. Since laughter releases tension in the body and makes us feel relaxed, it becomes difficult to also feel anxious.
You might be suffering from Stress if you are…
· Feeling unwell, depressed, engage in negative self-talk
· Experiencing muscle tension, indigestion, chest pains
· Suffer from sleep disturbance, changes in appetite, shortness of breath
To look for the humor in any situation, you first need to realize that life, no matter how tough, does not have to be quite so serious – at least, not all the time. Lee Nash, writing for Wheaton Quarterly Magazine reminds us to get over our own egos. He says, “many of my favorite jokes are about my worst memories.” Learning to take another perspective and sometimes laughing at the ridiculous nature of the human condition can help us to overcome some of our darkest moments. If we learn to laugh at ourselves, even our failures (we all have them), then we also open ourselves up to looking at situations from a different perspective. Even failures provide opportunities for learning something new about ourselves!
Laughter really is the best medicine, and a preventative measure against many ailments. Prescribe yourself a spoonful of humor today!