It turns out, laughter really is the best medicine!


It turns out, laughter really is the best medicine!

By: Michelle Burtnyk | Health Promotion Specialist, Health and Counselling Services
  14037 reads

“Frame your mind to mirth and merriment, which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life”

-Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew

Ever laugh so hard that you can’t breathe? Until your stomach hurts? Laughter actually gives you quite a good aerobic workout – it exercises your diaphragm and abs – and also works to strengthen your immune system. When we laugh, our blood pressure and heart rate both rise, then fall, which increases our intake of oxygen-rich air, giving us more energy. What’s more, after a good bout of laughter, our muscles are left feeling more relaxed, which is a great stress reliever if you tend to experience muscle pain as a result of stress.

So, in addition to relaxing tense muscles, how else can laughter help us manage stressors in our lives? Recent research has shown that laughter helps to reduce the levels of stress hormones (ex. epinephrine and cortisol) in our blood, and increases the level of endorphins, which give us an overall feeling of well-being.

Sharing a good laugh with a friend or colleague is also a great way to build and strengthen relationships (as they say, “laughter is the shortest distance between two people”). It can help to give us perspective or serve as a distraction when confronted with difficult or distressing situations, making them more manageable and less stressful – it’s really difficult to experience laughter and humor while at the same time experiencing sadness, anger, or anxiety!

Now that you know just how beneficial laughter can be, go out and find humor in the world around you – once you start looking, it’s not hard to find! Learn to laugh at yourself, surround yourself with positive people and humorous reading and viewing materials, take daily humour breaks, and try to find the humour in stressful situations. Try laughter yoga. Practice laughing out loud as part of your daily exercise regime. Post humorous jokes on the bulletin board at work. Whenever you can, try to incorporate some humour into your day.

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”

-Mark Twain

Beyond the Article:

Laughter Yoga
Laughter Yoga is a series of breathing and easy movement exercises designed to teach the body to laugh without depending on jokes or humor. Visit this site for classes around Vancouver, some more info on the benefits of Laughter, as well as info on how to get a laughter yoga instructor to come to your group or organization.

Dr. Humour
Join the National Association for the Humor Impaired, and find out more information on the healing power of humor and how to incorporate humor in your workplace.

Benefits of Laughter
For those visual learners out there, check out this visual representation highlighting the benefits of laughter!

Posted on November 18, 2010