POWER OF LAUGHTER – THE TOP 5 BENEFITS
Most of my spring and summer months were plagued with long bouts of debilitating depression. I could barely leave the house and the thought of going to a social event made my stomach churn. But it was right around that time that a local annual summer celebration we usually attend at the end of June was taking place. We go every year to listen to the free live music and meet up with friends, especially since it’s within walking distance. My husband and I were planning to meet up with his parents and some of our friends, and our son was also going to hanging out with a group of friends.
After talking with my friends for a while, we all loosened up and were talking and laughing like teenagers. The content of our conversations ranged from serious women’s issues to extreme goofiness. I laughed so hard that my cheeks hurt for a long time and we couldn’t stop laughing. I didn’t remember how long it had been since I’d laughed that hard. That got me thinking about the power of laughter and the many health benefits.
1. Reduces Stress Hormone Levels
A good, strong laugh activates and then relieves your stress response resulting in a nice, relaxing feeling. It helps lower your stress and anxiety levels, which can also result in a better night’s sleep by providing an overall sense of well-being.
2. Improves Mood
In connection with number one, since laughter reduces your stress levels, you are in a better mood and have reduced depression and anxiety, making you feel happier.
3. Provides Pain Relief and Strengthens the Immune System
Laughter can relieve pain, as it causes the body to release its own natural painkillers – endorphins. Likewise, laughter improves your immune system by increasing the production of antibodies. It activates T-cells and cells that kill tumors.
4. May Improve Heart Health
Laughter increases your intake of oxygen-rich air, which stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles. After a good bout of laughter, your blood vessels are more easily able to expand and contract. Other benefits include reduced inflammation, lowered blood pressure, and protection against cardiovascular disease.
5. Improves Physical Health
Laughter can be a great cardio workout, not to mention an ab toning workout. As you laugh, your abdominal muscles expand and contract just like when you perform ab exercises. Laughing will generally burn as many calories per hour as walking at a moderate pace. It can also help to regulate appetite hormones and lower your blood sugar levels.
While some of the benefits may only be short-term, I recommend laughing more often for the best results. Go ahead and let your silliness take over. Laughter really IS the best medicine!