Editor: It’s true that children laugh many more times a day than adults do. But, we should try to catch up to those little rascals! And for greats reasons, it’s great for our health, not to mention our sanity! So yuk it up, early and often. And please share anything you find funny with us here: firstname.lastname@example.org We are always looking for a good belly laugh!
You know how it feels when you laugh so hard you cry? Whatever tension you had, a good belly laugh washes it away. Because your mind and body are connected, laughing may be one of the best natural medicines around.
What happens when you laugh?
A robust laugh gives the muscles of your face, diaphragm, abdomen, and sometimes your arms and legs, a good workout. Your heart rate and blood pressure rise then fall, you breathe faster and deeper, and oxygen surges through your blood stream. Your brain pumps hormones that make you very alert and endorphins that numb pain. Laughter:
- raises your pain threshold
- reduces stress and calms you in emotional situations
- enhances immunity by boosting your levels of antibodies
Laughing relaxes your body and clears your mind. By seeing the humor in a stressful situation, you may be able to change your response to the stress by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
You can’t laugh and worry too much at the same time.
Prescription for laughter
How can you use humor to feel your best? Try to:
Seek out things that make you laugh, like funny movies, books, and cartoons
Keep a humor journal in which you write down jokes, funny things kids say, newspaper headlines, bumper stickers, and events
Tell jokes and make a point of passing on the jokes you hear
Laugh at yourself when you make mistakes or think you’re taking yourself too seriously
Look at the funny side of stressful situations and turn them into funny stories you can tell afterwards
Handle stressful events with humor instead of anger or anxiety
Humor can be a powerful medicine, and laughter can be contagious.
Source: Adapted with permission from the Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook (as published under the title Mind & Body Health Handbook), David Sobel, MD, and Robert Ornstein, PhD, 1996
Reviewed by: Paul Millea, MD, June, 2013