John Lennon, the world-renowned co-founder of famed musical band, ‘Beatles’ once said, ‘Count your life by smiles, not tears.’ Unfortunately, as we age and as we add years to our life we tend to smile lesser and lesser. Think about this… Research has shown that children laugh on an average of 300 or more times a day; while you and me, adults, laugh just an average of 5 times a day! Why? Where did this natural smiling nature disappear as we grew up? Is it worth, smiling about and getting on with daily life or should we continue with the solemn and serious approach? Read on to know more on the impact of humour and laughter on our health.
Since time immemorial, humans have always felt better after a good laugh. Modern day scientists have conducted extensive experiments on the effects of laughter on health and these studies have some very interesting findings, which are listed below.
Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this is fun, free, and easy to use. Laughter is indeed a strong medicine for mind and body.
What Happens When We Laugh?
When we laugh there are many changes happening to our body. The muscles of our face and body are stretched, our pulse and blood pressure go up, we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues. Having your daily dose of laughter can have both short-term and long-term benefits.
A good laugh has great short-term effects. Laughter can:
- Stimulate many organs: Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. Endorphins are those chemicals which make you feel good
- Relieve your stress and tension: A good laugh improves your stress response and gives you a good, relaxed feeling. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress. It also causes a decrease in the levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine
People who indulge in a daily dose of cheer, experience many long-term benefits too.
- Improve your immune system: While negative thoughts add more stress and bring down the immunity of the body, laughter and the positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and improve your immunity. Several studies have proven that laughter can improve the immune system by increasing the number of anti-infection antibodies as well as T-cells in the blood
- Relieve pain: Laughter may also help ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. The diversion of mind that laughter brings also helps to engage the person in positive thoughts and alleviate pain
- Improve your mood and cheer: To help one face the ups and downs of life, laughter can help. The social interactions that accompany laughter can help lessen depression and anxiety and make one feel happier
- Improves Sleep Quality: For those who have trouble falling asleep at night or having a disturbed sleep, laughter can also be considered as a medicine. Laughing causes the body to produce more melatonin, the hormone released by the brain that helps you sleep better. So, in the evening, it’s a good idea to have some joke time with your family over the dinner table or to watch some comedy shows together with your family
- Keeps You Young: Did you that with each smile, as many as 15 facial muscles work together, which improves the blood circulation in your face and makes you look younger and healthier
Table 1: Benefits of Laughter on Health
|Physical Health Benefits||Mental Health Benefits||Social Benefits|
|Boosts immunity||Adds joy to life||Improves relations with others|
|Lowers stress hormones||Eases anxiety and fear||Enhances teamwork|
|Decreases pain||Improves mood||Reduces conflicts|
|Relaxes muscles||Enhances resilience||Improves bonding|
So now that we are convinced that laughter is a very healthy choice, how do we go about including it in our daily lives? Many people feel they lack the ability to crack jokes or find situations funny enough to laugh out loudly. Don’t worry about it. You are not alone in this problem. It is pretty common and there are solutions to it. Yes, you can actually work towards imcreasing your humour quotient.
How to Improve your sense of humor?
Humour can be learned. Once you have set the goal of improving your sense of humour, it is possible to develop or refine the same.
- Start collecting Humour: Remember the comic books that you enjoyed as a child. Go, buy a few of them and keep them on your desk at home, on your dining table, near your bed and other handy places. Hang up posters that made you chuckle at home or in your office. Don’t miss out on reading the daily comic strip in the newspapers. Keep funny videos, movies or comedy albums on hand for when you need an added humour boost
- Laugh and the world laughs with you: Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Try to lose that grim and serious way of viewing life and search for the lighter side of any incident in your life. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good
- Be in the company of friends who laugh often: Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favour by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you
- Join Laughter clubs: In many public gardens, you can find laughter clubs who meet every morning. They practice many types of laughter. Even though the initial feeling is one of awkwardness as this is a forced laughter without any actual funny situation, soon the very sound of a group of people engaging in loud laughter breaks all your inhibitions and you will find yourself too having a whale of a time
So are you convinced that Laughter is the best medicine and you can get it free of cost with just a little effort? Go ahead and give it a try. Come on, give a smile as you are reading this. Turn the corners of your mouth up, widen it into a big smile. Now that you are smiling, let’s progress from a smile to a small laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Next, please LAUGH OUT LOUDLY (LOL)!!
Are you feeling better now? Do you feel a more relaxed? That’s the natural wonder of laughing. Ha ha he he
LOL IS HEALTHY