What if laughter really was the best medicine? Are you boosting your health with gut-busting peals of laughter, or are you stagnate in a bland world without giggles?
The research is in, and laughter is getting a lot of attention for the benefits it can bring to you, both emotionally and physically. It may not be medicine, but it could be that with a healthy dose of laughter in your life, you may find you don’t need any medicine.
In an article in Psychology Today, they unpacked how raising your laugh quota could lead to numerous wellness benefits a la feeling more optimistic, being friendlier to others, and even appearing more attractive. It appears that boosting your laugh quota could help your life in the following ways:
1. Laughter Is Like a Drug
An article in The Journal of Neuroscience, folks looked at the brain’s chemical response to laughter and found it can be as powerful as heroin but without any negative side effects.
The study found that social laughter, among others, increased pleasurable sensations and triggered endogenous opioid release in the thalamus, caudate nucleus, and anterior insula. This means you’re getting a dose of natural opioids through your brain just from laughing. Of course, there are other ways to boost your mood, like being healthy or trying some stress-relieving supplements, like Zenwell.
2. Laughter Can Make You #HOT
Have you ever heard a woman say she prefers men who can make her laugh? Some people swear that’s true, others don’t believe that at all.
An article in the University Herald looked at the science behind it. A good sense of humor can indeed make a man more attractive to a woman.
The most interesting findings suggest that there is a gender difference in relation to humor. It was found that females have more activity in the midbrain and the amygdala when laughing, which is the reward area.
They concluded that the female brain has evolved to appreciate humor, while the male brain has evolved to prompt laughter.
3. Laughter Makes It Hurt Less
Now to go back to the chemical response to laughter. The Royal Society discovered that social laughter can raise your pain threshold.
It’s not often that people sit together and laugh while testing their pain thresholds, but this finding goes a long way toward explaining why jokes crop up almost immediately after a tragedy. It’s one of the body’s natural coping mechanisms for pain.
4. Laughing Boosts Your Immune System
Want to avoid getting sick during this season’s cold and flu outbreaks? Try laughing more. There are many studies that suggest that people who laugh more respond better to treatment, and that laughter itself causes physiological changes that benefit your immune and endocrine systems.
This area of study needs a lot more research to determine the susceptibility of people to laughter, what prompts the body’s responses, whether it’s the act of laughing itself or the good feelings, and so on.
The good news is, laughter is good for your immune system and why that happens isn’t nearly as important as the fact that it does.
5. Laughing Burns Calories
Want to lose some weight? Get your besties together and spend an evening laughing until it hurts. We all know that pain in your abdomen that comes from laughing uncontrollably.
Want to know the math of laughter and calories? It’s estimated that laughing for 10-15 minutes burns somewhere between 10 and 40 calories. It’s not a considerable amount, and you’d have to laugh for 12 hours straight to burn a pound, but laughing also raises your heart rate, and when that happens your metabolism increases, which means you’ll continue to burn calories at a somewhat elevated rate even when you stop laughing. We dig this workout regime.
6. Laughing Regulates Blood Pressure
ResearchGate published an article suggesting that laughter is linked to blood pressure. The initial state of laughter causes an increase in arterial blood pressure, improving circulation, and reducing overall blood pressure.
Laughing is a heart-healthy exercise.
7. Laughing Helps You Remember
Do you know how you walk into a room and then totally forget why you're there? Laughter may help. Research from Loma Linda University Medical Center found that humor can enhance the short-term memory of elderly subjects.
Stress is the main culprit when it comes to problems with memory and your ability to learn as you age. Laughter can reduce stress and also decreases cortisol and catecholamines, hormones that are known to wear down and damage the body and brain.
8. Laughter Promotes Creativity
Laughter can help people solve problems that require out of the box or creative solutions. An article in Scientific American highlights the work of Karuna Subramaniam and her discoveries that people in a lighthearted mood have more Aha! moments and sudden inspiration.
9. Laughter Fights Cancer
An article published by Western Kentucky University takes a deeper look at data regarding the effects of laughter on cancer patients. They stated that cancer patients revealed humor was one of the common complementary therapies.
Going even further, the article suggests that in addition to psychological benefits, there are physiological effects on immune functioning that can help the body fight cancer.
Waking Up To Wellness
Your prescription calls for a daily dose of he-he's and ha-ha's if you want to live a healthier, happier life. It’s amazing what a little laughter can do, from releasing chemicals in your body that make you happier, to fighting off illness.
If you’re not cramming as many LOL moments into your day as you can, it’s time to start yucking it up. Hang out with friends that make you laugh, watch shows you find entertaining, spend more time listening to comedy acts, or just fake it. The more you add laughter into your life, the happier and healthier you’ll be.