It has been said that laughter is the best medicine. We’re always being told that, but there’s actually more to good giggle than just raising the spirits for a couple of minutes. As a matter of fact, laughter is a big deal and has been shown to have many beneficial effects on the human body in different ways. Laughing allows the brain to release endorphins, which is a neurotransmitter creating the feeling of joy and euphoria. Hence, don’t let anyone ever stop you from having a good laugh. Otherwise, they could be harming your health.
Prior to going further down, know that towards the end of this article is a video presentation by Lee S. Berk, DrPH, MPH who is a pioneer in studying scientifically the neuroendocrine and immune effects of positive emotions. It’s an interesting presentation and half of it is presented by his colleague Ryan Berk on how a good black chocolate is made. In fact, the title of the presentation is The Science of Laughter and Chocolate. But before you scroll down and watch the presentation, check out these beneficial effects of laughter on your health, creativity, and overall well-being.
1. Reduces Stress – Laughing activates the stress response by reducing the level of stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine leaving you feeling good and relaxed. Believed it or not, laughter provides a full-scale workout for the muscles and stimulates better blood flow to the entire body. In turned, all these help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress. So, next you’re stressed, watch a comedy show or funny cartoon shows and soon you’ll notice feeling better.
2. Promotes Heart Health – Those who laugh a lot regularly tend to have lower blood pressure compared to an average person. During a good laugh, blood pressure increases initially, but it returns back to normal, or even lower. This may seem has a similar effect to drinking coffee in which caffeine causes a spike in blood pressure level temporarily in healthy individuals. Moreover, laughter has been found beneficial to blood circulation as mentioned earlier reducing the likelihood of developing heart disease.
Dr. Michael Miller of University of Maryland Medical Center said that the best laugh is one that brings tears to the eyes. You may have experienced this, and others may call this tears of joy. Dr. Miller is also an author of the book “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease“ and also conducted a study where he and his team measured the blood flow of 20 volunteers before and after watching a funny movie, and a sad movie. They found that after watching the sad movie, 14 of the 20 volunteers experienced a restricted blood flow. On the other hand, after watching a funny movie, there was an average 22% increase in blood flow. Laughing for 15 minutes each day is just as vital for the heart as doing 30 minutes of workout 3 times a week.
3. Boosts The Body’s Immune System – Those who have a weak immune system, regular dose of laughter can boost it. One study reported by the DailyMail that laughter can boosts the immune system by up to 40%. At the same time, while decreasing the stress hormones, laughter increases T-Cells in the blood that help fight infection and diseases like common cold, and even cancer.
4. Relieves Pain – Although it may sound weird, but laughter is an effective painkiller. One study published in the Proceedings of Royal Society B found that laughter can increase pain tolerance. Fifteen minutes of laughter can increase pain threshold by up to 10% due to endorphins released in the brain. These endorphins cause something similar experience of people taking drugs, but the one produced from laughter is natural resulting to a pleasant and calm feeling and relieving pain temporarily.
Another study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing found that patients who were told to jokes after a surgical procedure and prior to a painful medical administration perceived less pain compared to patients who were not told to have a dose of humor as part of the therapy or treatment. The study was conducted by Norman Cousin, and you’ll learn about him as Dr. Lee Berk mentioned him in his presentation towards the end of this article.
5. Improve Sleep Quality – People who suffered from insomnia may find laughing more often a beneficial as a natural remedy. Researchers studying the field of sleep and insomnia confirmed laughter is beneficial in improving sleep quality due to its relaxing effect on both mind and body. A Korean study concluded;
The laughter therapy is considered to be useful for the elderly people in a community that improves insomnia and sleep quality.
Laughter has also been found effective in improving the efficacy of insomnia treatments.
6. Makes You More Sociable – If you can make people laugh, more people will likely want to become your friends as everyone is gravitated towards someone good at making them laugh. Why not? So far, we’ve seen few of the many benefits of laughing and they’re healthy and beneficial. Additionally, having that good sense of humor allows you to accomplish more, or productive at work, team player and an excellent communicator.
7. Helps with Weight Loss – Although you might not be burning more calories while laughing, but that satisfying laugh can raise your heart rate and boosting up metabolism. If you’re among the millions of people who are dieting for weight loss purposes, yet you’re still struggling to lose weight, include laughter or sense of humor in your routine. After all, the majority of those who lose weight successfully and able to keep it off are enjoying in their journey.
8. Natural Anti-Aging – People who often laugh, feel happy and have a good sense of humor tend to look younger than those who are not expressing themselves. Aside from the positive psychological impact of laughing, fifteen facial muscles are working in concert when you laugh. This effect allows an increase blood flow around the facial area, which is valuable for looking younger and healthier.
9. Boost Creativity – As you’ve already learned, laughing creates many chemical processes in the body including the reduction of stress hormones and increasing the feel good hormone like endorphins. In addition, these positive effects of laughter allow an increased supply of oxygen to the blood and brain resulting in increased creativity. Have you noticed times in your past when you have a good sense of humor, laughing and feeling happy, that you were more creative and can think better?
Well, this is it! All you have to do now to improve creativity is to feel good and have a good laugh daily. By improving overall brain health and bolstering its natural support system, both brain hemispheres work together efficiently giving creativity more chance to grow and foster.
10. Boosts Memory Function – In a previous article, we’ve mentioned how laughter can improve memory. Laughter is just as important for memory and learning as sleep.
As mentioned earlier, here’s the presentation by Lee S. Berk on the health benefits of laughter. If you want to learn more about Lee S. Berk prior to watching the presentation, click here. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to know the person presenting especially if this is the first time you’ve heard him. During the presentation, he also mentioned Norman Cousins, author of the book “Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient“ whom according to Berk got him inspired to do the research on this subject.