I don’t know about you, but one of the best feelings in the world is a deep-rooted belly laugh. A weight is lifted with even the slightest chuckle. Yet researchers aren’t sure if it’s the actual act of laughing that makes people feel better. A good sense of humor, a positive attitude, and the support of friends and family might also play a role.
Researchers have found that laughter actually boosts the immune system increasing the number of antibody-producing T cells. This makes us less likely to get coughs and colds. It also lowers the levels of at least four hormones that are associated with stress, so after a good giggle you should be far less tense and anxious.
The benefits of a good laugh are wide-ranging and can include protection from emotional issues like depression and improving the health of your heart. Here are a few of the facts experts know about the health benefits of laughter:
- Relieves Pain – A good chortle has been found to reduce pain. Not only does it distract you from aches, but also it releases feel-good endorphins into your system that are more powerful than the same amount of morphine. These endorphins cause something akin to a natural “high,” leading to pleasant feelings of calm, as well as temporary pain-relief.
- Reduces Depression – Laughter has long been known to help people who are suffering from SAD or full-blown depression. Laughing reduces tension and stress, and lowers anxiety and irritation, which are all major factors that contribute to the blues.
- Lowers Blood Pressure – People who lower their blood pressure, even those who start at normal levels, will reduce their risk of strokes and heart attacks, so sit back and enjoy a comedy, or grab the Sunday paper, flip to the comics and enjoy your laughter medicine.
- Produces a General Sense of Well-Being – Laughter can increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to be significantly less negative. So smile and laugh!
Though the definitive research into the potential health benefit hasn’t been done yet, doesn’t it just feel good to laugh? And in the end, what is adding a little laughter to your day and to those around you going to hurt? Get your joke book out, think of a funny movie to watch, or just think back on a memory that made you laugh in the past and get that belly laugh going.