Sourced with thanks from vvdailypress.com
Laughter is the best medicine. Surely most of you will remember this from the Reader’s Digest which you must have devoured in your younger days. It really is true. There are many known and unknown benefits of a good laugh and it would make sense to find opportunities to laugh more. The author, in the piece below, talks at length about laughter about the beneficial effects of laughter on your body and your life. Laugh your way to good health. Go ahead and give it a try. Team RetyrSmart
Laughter is no laughing matter
When was the last time you had a good laugh?
I’m talking about a really good laugh; a laugh that makes your eyes water and makes it hard to breathe. Has it been days? Months? Years? Do you even remember?
With the COVID pandemic, isolation, social unrest and a hostile political climate, anyone’s mental health can be adversely affected. In recent times, there has been a dramatic rise in depression and anxiety. So how can people improve their sense of happiness and well-being in the face of such challenges? The answer might just be a bit easier to come by than we suspect.
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Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine.
There are many proven benefits of laughter. The ability to laugh, even and especially while dealing with the tumult of the day, enhances our physical and emotional health. Best of all, it’s free.
Why do most people remember their childhood fondly? Maybe it is because children laugh more. I read an article that said children laugh about 300 times a day. Babies laugh spontaneously and have a contagious effect. If you don’t believe me, check out a YouTube compilation of babies laughing. When you hear someone laugh, your brain naturally readies you to join the fun. This is why older sitcoms pipe in laugh tracks. Laughter is good for your health. The more you laugh the happier you feel.
Laughter also relaxes you. A belly laugh can instantly relax your muscles long after the laugh. A good laugh boosts the body’s immune cells. By increasing blood flow, laughing expands the blood vessels, increasing oxygen in the body, thereby giving you more energy.
Laughter improves cardiovascular health, and it can help undo the negative consequences of stressors on heart health. Laughing increases, the release of Nitric Oxide from the hypothalamus in the brain. Nitric Oxide dilates the blood vessels preventing cholesterol plaques in the arterial walls. Humour also decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke by decreasing the release of stress hormones from the brain, leading to decreased blood pressure. It can also help temporarily decrease pain by releasing endorphins (the happiness hormone). With aging and age-related cognitive impairment, laughter offsets some of the effects of time and improves cognitive ability and improves alertness.
Concerning the rise in anxiety and depression, laugh therapy can be used to combat such psychological obstacles. It is also a form of cognitive behaviour therapy. Laughter releases positive neurotransmitters in the brain, creating positive feelings. Laughing also helps the release of serotonin in the brain, which helps improve your mood.
Laughing improves your mood, adds joy to your life and may even reduce anger, a much-needed benefit given today’s tense atmosphere. Humour in general makes us more optimistic and improves resilience when managing life’s stressors.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that depression is a serious health matter and laugh therapy is an adjunct therapy.
Laughter Yoga, which began in 1995 in India, is the art of using laughter and breathing to relieve pain, boost immunity and help with coping. It was started by a family physician to help cope with daily stress and anxiety. By laughing for no reason, you bring positivity to your life. Research shows the body cannot differentiate real laughter from fake laughter. You can get all the same health benefits — reduced tension and loneliness, and improved circulation, respiration and immune response — from a fake laugh.
In addition to physiological benefits, laughing makes us more socially attractive. In general, we prefer to be around people who are happy. Shared laughter strengthens interpersonal relationships and can produce lasting bonds. It is important in both marriages and friendships.
One of the key indicators for a happy marriage or friendship is humour. When you are happy, you tend to make more friends. It is exhausting being around someone who is constantly complaining, unremittingly resentful, perpetually perturbed, incessantly insecure and irrationally irritable. Such people are bad for their own health, let alone that of others.
So try laughing. August is National Wellness Month after all. Make it a goal to laugh. Try watching a funny sitcom like “Seinfeld,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” or “I Love Lucy.” Classic comedies like “Airplane!” or animated features like “Despicable Me” can also provide much needed comedic relief.
Humour is learned and practiced. Victor Frankl, the famed psychotherapist behind logotherapy, noted that a person ultimately has one freedom that cannot be taken away, and that is the freedom to respond to situations. While we cannot control everything that happens to us, we can control how we react. Abraham Lincoln said people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be. When we choose to laugh, we are closer to choosing positive relationships, health, and happiness.
On a lighter note, whatever you do, always give 100% — unless you are giving blood.