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THE BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER FOR LASTING WELLNESS

May 01, 2017 by Renee Tavoularis

THE BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER FOR LASTING WELLNESS

When was the last time you lost yourself in laughter? While we may have our favorite comedians or sitcoms that bring on a good giggle from time to time, there are many benefits to laughter and always room in our lives for one more chuckle.

A sense of humor for relaxation and resilience

Sure, laughing makes us feel good both emotionally and physically—but its benefits go deeper than that. Studies suggest that a sense of humor is linked to a better quality of life and sense of well-being. Laughter is one of the most direct ways to activate a release of endorphins, a process that allays symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Cultivating an ability to laugh in the face of difficult situations can breed happiness and a capacity to cope during times of high stress. And it turns out, laughing is associated with a more cheerful disposition and better mood overall.

The health benefits are no joke

Believe it or not, laughing actually stimulates healthy physical changes in the body. With a good laugh, you’ll be boosting your body’s health on several levels:

Relieve muscle tension

Laughing gets the blood flowing and contracts muscles, not only giving you a micro workout but leaving you with a sense of ease. 

Reduce pain (with the release of endorphins)

Endorphins are the feel-good hormone, and when they’re flowing our threshold for pain gets a bump.

Increase circulation and support heart health

The increased blood flow brought on by laughter improves the functioning of blood vessels and promotes heart health.

Alleviate stress

When you laugh, your stress response gets activated and then released, leaving you feeling relaxed and renewed. 

Healthier relationships, amplified mood 

One thing we all know about laughter is that it’s contagious. Laughing is a natural social behavior. Most often, we laugh when we’re around other people—in one study, laughter was 30% more frequent in social vs. solitary environments.

While laughter is often brought on as an unconscious response to stimulus, it can be a hidden language with a profound ability to bind two people together. This ability to connect with others, especially with a loved one, can help you work through difficult emotional situations. In the short term, laughing together can aid in diffusing conflict and reducing anger. In the long term, humor increases feelings of intimacy and relationship satisfaction.

Fill your life with laughter

Often times, a short laugh can offer the stress-relief we need in a given moment. But an enduring sense of humor can be key to sustaining an overall sense of well-being and positivity in our lives generally. 

Cultivating your sense of humor is perhaps easiest and most enjoyable alongside friends and family. Get together and share stories, or go out to restaurants or other places where you are likely to be surrounded by laughter; in fact, even the sound of laughter can trigger a positive response. 

It’s far too easy to get wrapped up in stress, but we can remind ourselves that the costs for our health and happiness are serious. At the same time, we can feel how easy it is to boost our mood with a good laugh. That healthy chuckle not only gives us a happy shot of endorphins, but counteracts the physical symptoms of stress to boost our immunity for lasting health.
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