Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

We’re all told that laughter is the best medicine, but this isn’t just a common phrase as there are a spectrum of great laughter benefits. In fact, a good solid laugh can produce a temporary alteration in your biology and can improve your overall wellbeing. Think about it.  When you have a fantastic laugh with a friend or even get through a show or movie you find particularly funny, you feel great afterward. You may even have a lingering smile on your face for a few minutes just because you still feel good.

So, if you’re someone who loves a good laugh on a regular basis, good for you! If you’re not, you might want to lighten up a little. It really is good for you!

Check Out These Laughter Benefits

Laughter benefits can extend to both your physical and mental health. It may feel like just a chuckle at the time, but you’re actually providing yourself with a surprising amount of healing.

Consider the following ways that laughter benefits your whole body and your wellbeing:

Your Brain

When something strikes you funny, your brain fires in the areas of muscle function, higher thought, and emotion. This leads to spontaneous contractions of the muscles around your cheeks and eyes. At the same time, signals are sent along the brain stem, through the spine and outward to produce the functions associated with laughter, such as the unique breathing pattern.

This one process can trickle throughout your central nervous system.  Consider this part of laughter benefits.  You may think of laughter as something limited to your face, but when you laugh very hard, it can produce a whole-body reaction.  As the brain lights up and the nerves fire throughout the body, you may find yourself moving your legs or arms (have you ever stomped a foot, clapped, or slapped your leg from laughter?).  It may also move throughout the length of your spine, which helps to explain why you may lean forward or rock through laughing.

Your Lungs

The signals sent out by the brain cause your chest and diaphragm muscles to tighten, which squeezes the air out of your lungs. Without anywhere else to go, that air moves back out through your windpipe and past your larynx. This causes the vibration of your vocal cords which produce brief and unrestrained vowel sounds (for example, “ha ha ha”).  Due to this reaction, it also causes you to breathe more deeply, flooding your bloodstream with oxygen.  This can be very enjoyable – laughter benefits you can feel right away.

When you take fuller breaths, it can help to lighten your mood and reduce your stress.  The added oxygen in your bloodstream and the process of breathing deeply are natural anxiety and depression reducers.

Your Heart

When the air rushes out of your lungs, this drives the need for oxygen in the body, causing your heart rate and your blood pressure to increase in order to make sure that your organs will all receive it. All this added oxygen in your blood is pushed throughout your body more efficiently by your increased heart rate.  It can help your body to feel more energized, which can help you to feel driven and motivated, too.

Your Muscles

Both core and facial muscles tense with laughter, causing the rest of your muscles to become less coordinated and weaker. This is what makes it difficult to walk straight or perform precise tasks when you are overcome with laughter. The obliques (the muscles along the sides of your core) work very hard, burning extra calories. So, in this sense, you could consider regular hearty laughter to be a healthy part of a fitness lifestyle or even a weight loss diet.

Eyes

With powerful laughter, the eyes can begin to water. This can help to rinse out the eye area and can help to avoid dryness at the same time. This can help your eyes to stay healthier, it can make your eyes more comfortable, and these laughter benefits can even help you to see better (once the tears clear) because dry eyes can be at a greater risk of problems and discomforts.

Hormones

A very good laugh causes your body to release endorphins, which are the same naturally produced form of opiates that are produced during exercise. This can cause a temporary increase in the pain threshold. At the same time, regular laughter can help to minimize the production of cortisol, often known as the stress hormone. This can help to keep you happier, overall, and can help to combat depression and fatigue. Cortisol has also been linked to obesity, so this is a second way that laughter can help you to trim down your waistline.

These laughter benefits are only the beginning of the advantages your mind and body enjoy with a great chuckle or full-on belly laugh.  If you haven’t found yourself giggling in a while, it could be time to stream a comedy or spend time with one of your most hilarious friends!

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