Who doesn't enjoy a huge belly laugh? No matter your age, health experts say laughter is good for the mind, heart and soul.
With the information age moving as fast as a blazing comet, we are missing out on healthy conversation especially the kind that can even make a grouchy grandpa bust a laugh. No matter if you are looking for short or long term benefits, laughter can be the best medicine. The benefits are many, but we found laughter:
Improves mental health - the National Council of Library Medicine, National Institute of Health reports laughter has a positive effect on our mental health. Laughter is a proven healthy way to overcome stress. It has a positive effect on physical, psychological and social relationships while improving quality of life.
Improves sleep and eases tension - laughter helps improve our sleep habits and allows us to grab a few extra peaceful winks at night. According to Psychology today, a group of Japanese researchers found laughing in the evening causes the body to produce more melatonin, the hormone released by the brain that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Expands blood flow and improves immune system - researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center found laughter releases chemicals that derive similar benefits as aerobic exercise or cholesterol reducing medications. Interestingly, laughter is spontaneous and has an immediate effect on our well being without taking any medications.
Reduces pain - in a study reported in Time Magazine, a good hearty laugh with friends can release endorphins in the brain, chemicals that trigger positive feelings in the body and can have the same result as pain reducing medications.
- Burns calories - Vanderbilt Medical Center conducted a study that showed laughing for 15 minutes a day will burn up to 40 calories. Only losing 40 calories does not appear to be much, but they certainly add up over time while improving your heart.
If you are thinking that laughing is good for you, but struggle to find ways to laugh more, try these ideas:
Share funny stories - it takes a conscious effort to gather funny content during the day. It may require extra effort to hang around friends that are funny, but you will eventually learn from them. Also, you might consider watching funny movies, funny videos, and recall funny experiences and start sharing them with friends.
- Focus on what makes you laugh - it may be TV shows, joke books, photographs, or magazines. Make a habit of finding things that make you laugh and then find a way to share it with friends and family.
- Comedy club - look around your community for a comedy club. Consider stopping in after work or on weekends for a laugh. You can also access humorous sites online.
The next time you engage in conversation, pay attention to how you feel after a laugh. Challenge yourself to laugh more and I promise you will feel better. I am certain you will be a little less tense and much more relaxed. Laughter is the best medicine and your body will have additional energy in the short and long term. Since the experts say laughing helps our physical and mental health, we need to all take time to reflect on what tickles our funny bone.