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Listen up and laugh– health benefits are waiting PDF Print E-mail

By Mark Underwood
Neuroscience Researcher
Did you know a good dose of laughter can actually help your immune system and decrease stress? Have you ever wished you could let go and laugh more often at the silliness of life?
Laughter for Better Health
There’s no doubt about it laughter makes you feel good, but research has shown that it also helps boost immunity, relax muscles, decreases pain, eases anxiety and relieves stress. Think of laughter as “internal jogging.” Laughter causes positive changes in brain chemistry by releasing endorphins, and that brings more oxygen into the body with the deeper inhalations caused by laughing.
Keep in mind laughter is more than just a temporary mood booster. It is a powerful tool that helps us find new sources of meaning and hope. It gives us strength in difficult times, and connects us to others.
Giggle Like a Child
Boost your mental outlook by acting like a kid again. As you age, allow laughter, humor, games and playfulness into your life. Daily humor can help you feel more relaxed, creative and joyful. Studies have shown that the average preschool child in the U.S. laughs about 400 times a day. As adults we laugh far less frequently.
According to studies at Ohio State University the average adult breaks out and laughs only about 15 times a day. If you can find a giggle in a situation, even for a few minutes, it will ease stress and help you refocus on positive things.
As you age, you may feel there are many things you can’t do as well as you used to. Maybe you can’t turn cartwheels like you used to, but no matter what your age, you can look for the humorous side of life. Laughter is a powerful tool. And it’s free to use anywhere, anytime.
Laugh Every Day
Most of us don’t remember when we first smiled, but you were probably smiling when you were just a few weeks old. If you don’t laugh out loud very often, don’t despair, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.
Look for something to laugh about every day because you will automatically take yourself less seriously. Laughter helps you feel less anxious and sad. What’s more, having a good hearty laugh at least once a day can help trigger better relationships and stronger bonds with your friends and family members. Laughing produces a high speed exchange of positive enforcement between your brain and the people around you.
Keep a “Laugh Kit”
These are some ways you can treat yourself to daily doses of good humor.
Hang out with positive “kids” of all ages–friends and family members from young to old, children, grandchildren, and great-children.
Surround yourself with reminders that there is a lighter side to life.
Put a funny cartoon somewhere visible in your home where you start your day.
Watch a funny movie or TV show.
Play with a pet.
Read the funnies.
Positive emotions can reduce health risks. So go ahead, create as many microseconds as possible of happiness-related chemistry. Laugh and you’ll improve your physical, mental and social health.