Have you ever heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine”? As it turns out, there’s more truth to that than you might think. Scientific studies have uncovered a range of benefits that laughter can have on the mind and body, from reducing stress to improving cognitive function. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind why laughter really is the best medicine and how it can benefit you. We’ll dive into how laughter can reduce inflammation, increase oxygen flow, boost mood, improve cognitive function, and even strengthen the immune system. So, get ready to laugh and learn about the many benefits of this natural remedy for both mind and body.
The Many Benefits of Laughing Your @$$ Off
Hopefully, everyone reading this has at least one friend that makes your abs hurt for days after hanging out with them. Not because they’re a personal trainer that kicked your booty in working out, but because they’re so hilarious that you laugh almost the entire time you’re with them. Do you have your person, or persons, in mind? Okay then, let’s try a little experiment.
Start by taking a few deep breaths to disconnect from the mind and reconnect to the body and focusing on breathing in and out from the bottom of your abdomen. Then, pause for a moment and scan your body, taking note of how you feel to establish a baseline.
Now, visualize yourself hanging out with that friend that cracks you up. Try to engage as many of your senses in the experience as possible. Hear their voice and the sound of your laughter in your head. Where are you hanging out? Are you in their home? Yours? A party or event? A park? What other sounds can you hear around you? Is there music in the background, different conversations, or birds chirping? What can you smell? Is there any taste in your mouth? Take a few moments to pause reading, close your eyes, and imagine every detail. Then, when you’ve got a clear picture playing in your head, resume reading.
Now that you’re back take a moment to notice how your body feels. Is it any different than when you did the body scan at the start of the experiment? Do you maybe feel more relaxed or light-hearted? Are you slightly more energized and less drained? Do you feel less pain than you did a moment ago?
Suppose you felt better after the experiment than at the start. In that case, it’s because laughter has such a powerful impact on the mind and body that you benefit from even imagining time spent with your most hilarious friend. If your physical and mental state can improve after spending a couple of minutes visualizing, imagine the exponential benefit of spending regular, quality time with that person that makes you laugh until you cry. This is possible because, whether you like it or not, laughter really is the best medicine, and science proves it! Read on to discover the many ways laughter heals you.
Laughter Really is the Best Medicine Because it Reduces Inflammation
Another benefit of laughter scientists have studied is its ability to reduce inflammation. Inflammation contributes to a wide range of chronic diseases, from arthritis to heart disease and even cancer. When we laugh, our body releases endorphins, which help to reduce inflammation and pain. Additionally, laughter has been shown to decrease levels of stress hormones like cortisol, which can also contribute to inflammation. By reducing inflammation, laughter may help prevent or alleviate various health problems.
Here’s a link to a scientific study to back all that up:
- Bains, G., Berk, L., Lohman, E., Daher, N. and Miranda, B. (2017), Decrease in Inflammation (CRP) and Heart Rate Through Mirthful Laughter. The FASEB Journal, 31: 697.7-697.7. https://doi.org/10.1096/fasebj.31.1_supplement.697.7
Laughter Increases Oxygen Flow
Research has shown that laughter is not just good for reducing inflammation but can also increase oxygen flow in the body. When we laugh, we breathe in more air, stimulating the heart and lungs and increasing the amount of oxygen circulating in our blood. This is beneficial for our brains. The increased oxygen flow can lead to improved energy levels and mental clarity. Furthermore, laughter can also help to strengthen our immune system by increasing the oxygen levels in our body, which promotes the growth of healthy cells.
Laughter’s ability to increase the oxygen flow in the body makes it an excellent tool for reducing stress and boosting our mood. As we laugh and take in more air, we release tension and feel a sense of relaxation. This can lead to an overall improvement in mental health and well-being. In addition, laughter has been shown to decrease levels of stress hormones like cortisol, which can positively impact our immune system. So the next time you’re stressed or anxious, try watching a funny movie or spending time with a friend who makes you laugh – your body and mind will thank you! It’s one of the nine simple shifts that transform your life into one you don’t want or need to escape from.
Again, here’s the proof:
- Lebowitz KR, Suh S, Diaz PT, Emery CF. Effects of humor and laughter on psychological functioning, quality of life, health status, and pulmonary functioning among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a preliminary investigation. Heart Lung. 2011 Jul-Aug;40(4):310-9. doi: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2010.07.010. PMID: 21724041.
- Brutsche MH, Grossman P, Müller RE, Wiegand J, Pello, Baty F, Ruch W. Impact of laughter on air trapping in severe chronic obstructive lung disease. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2008;3(1):185-92. doi: 10.2147/copd.s2204. PMID: 18488442; PMCID: PMC2528214.
Laughter is Really the Best Medicine Because it Boosts Your Mood
Laughter’s benefits go beyond physical health; it has also been shown to impact our mood and mental state positively. When we laugh, we release tension and experience a sense of relaxation, which can lead to improved mental health and well-being.
This comes as no surprise, as you’ve likely felt the mood-enhancing benefits of laughing your @$$ off more than once in your life. But, the scientific evidence of a good chuckle’s psychological impact is plentiful. So, if you want to check it out, here are some links:
- https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/202003/laughing-can-boost-health-learning-and-moreLaughter improves cognitive function
Laughter Enhances Cognitive Function
This improved mental state you get from laughing can result in a boost to cognitive function. Research shows that laughter improves our ability to learn and retain information and enhances problem-solving skills. This is because when we laugh, we stimulate multiple areas of the brain, including those responsible for memory and creativity. In addition, studies have found that people who watch a funny video or read a humorous story before taking a cognitive test perform better than those who didn’t have the same dose of laughter beforehand. So, not only does laughter positively impact our mental and emotional well-being, but it can also help us perform better in our daily tasks and activities. And as we’ll see in the next section, it can also strengthen our immune system.
For those of you that want to, here are some studies you can geek out on:
- Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavior and Development; Vol. 16, No. 2 (April 1970), pp. 163-177 (15 pages); Published By: Wayne State University Press.
- MINI REVIEW article; Front. Psychiatry, 14 March 2019; Sec. Social Neuroscience; Volume 10 – 2019 Dissociating Empathy From Perspective-Taking: Evidence From Intra- and Inter-Individual Differences Research; Julia Stietz, Emanuel Jauk, Sören Krach and Philipp Kanske
Laughter Really is the Best Medicine Because it Strengthens the Immune System
Research indicates that laughter has a positive impact on our physical well-being too. One of the most significant benefits is that it strengthens the immune system. Laughter has been linked to increased production of white blood cells, which help fight off infections and diseases. These cells are vital parts of the immune system; the more we have, the better.
Laughter also reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can suppress the immune system, making us more susceptible to illnesses. By lowering their levels, laughter helps keep our immune system functioning optimally.
Moreover, laughter has been found to increase the body’s production of antibodies. These proteins help fight off harmful viruses and bacteria. For example, one study found that people who watched a funny video had higher levels of antibodies in their saliva than those who didn’t. This suggests that laughter can prime the immune system, making it more effective at fighting off infections.
In short, laughter has numerous benefits, including strengthening the immune system. By reducing stress hormones and increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies, laughter helps keep our bodies healthy and resilient. It may just be the medicine to boost your immune system and help you feel better.
Wrapping Up Why Laughter Really is the Best Medicine
In conclusion, laughter truly is the best medicine. The science behind its benefits is convincing, with studies showing that it can reduce inflammation, increase oxygen flow, boost mood and reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and strengthen the immune system. So next time you’re feeling down, take a break to watch a comedy or spend time with your funniest friends. As Victor Borge once said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” So go ahead, laugh it up, and reap the benefits of this powerful medicine. And remember to come back next week for a follow-up article on ways, besides having more fun, that you can infuse your life with the prescription of laughter. Click here to subscribe now so you don’t miss it!
Until Next Time,
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