Laughter is the best medicine
Laughing is fun, but not only! It can be of great benefit for your body and soul
The healing power of laughing is knownnce biblical times. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" is written in the book of Proverbs.
In modern times, a milestone on recognizing the beneficial effects of laughter was the book "Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient", written by Norman Cousins in 1979. Cousins was an American journalist, world peace advocate and professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science. He was the first to focus the attention of the scientific community on the effects of laughing and humor on body and mind.
Cousins based his research on his personal experience as he was suffering from a life-threatening illness. He reported,
"I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep".
Since then, there have been numerous studies on the subject. They led to what we now know as laughter therapy.
Health benefits of laughing
How many times do you think you laugh during the day? Researchers found out that children laugh every day around 300 times. As adults, life becomes more serious; indeed, the number of laughter per day reduces to 17 on average.
This is a pity because laughing has important physical, psychological and social benefits. Here are some of the health benefits of laughter:
- Releases endorphins. Endorphins promote a general sense of well-being and can help ease chronic pain.
- Improves heart health. Studies show a reduction of blood pressure after laughter and it's also a great cardio workout, especially for who can exercise only to a limited extend.
- Strengthens the immune system. Laughter increases immune cells and antibodies, thus improves resistance to disease.
- Helps the mental health. Laughing decreases stress hormones and is a natural anti-depressant. Moreover, it eases anxiety, tension and improves mood.
Laughter has also important social benefits. It strengthens relationships, attracts others to us and alleviates conflicts. Sharing a laughter is an effective way to bound with others and keep relationships alive. Laughter unites people, as it is a universal language. So laugh, be healthy and live longer!
Yes, live longer. According to one study conducted in Norway on more than 50,000 people, the greater role humor played in the lives of the participants, the grater chances they had to reach at list the age of 70. The finding of the study indicates that "sense of humor is a health protecting resource".
Are you interested how to "train" laugher to gain all those benefits?
Laughter therapies are based on the scientific fact that the body, unlike crying, makes no distinction between natural and artificial laughter; you get the same health benefits in both cases. Accordingly, laugh instructors also apply simple methods to make the participants laugh. At first, it may seem weird to force laughter, but continuing to practice it can soon turn into a spontaneous laughter.
The therapy in individual or group sessions. Everybody can take part; there's no need to be happy or have a sense of humor to benefit from it.
Common therapy methods are:
- Laughter therapy in clinical settings on the individual patient. Therapists identify the triggers for laughter of the patient and use them during the sessions.
- Laughing meditation and laughter yoga are quite similar to traditional meditation or yoga. They include exercises of breathing, stretching, meditative silence and, of course, laughter.
Laughter yoga is a trending phenomenon. Its most famous "guru" is Dr Madan Kataria, who opened the first laughter club in 1995 in Mumbai. Meanwhile, there are over 6000 laughter yoga clubs in about 72 countries including Switzerland, where you can meet and have fun with other people.
Curious how laughter yoga looks like? Watch this "funny" TED Talk of certified laughter yoga instructor Ida Abdalkhani:
Tips to bring more laughter into your life
Are you looking for more laughter in life but don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips to help you trigger your sense of humor:
- Set a goal to laugh more frequently. Try to include time for a good laugh in your daily routine, for example, reading at least one joke or funny cartoon every day.
- Spend time with playful and funny people. Some people have a natural sense of humor and love to joke, surround yourself with them. Laughter is contagious.
- Laugh at yourself. Allow yourself to be silly at times and look for the hilarious side of every situation.
- Spend time with children. They love to play, have fun and laugh for no reason.
- Keep near you reminders to lighten up. For example, put up a funny poster in your office or room or choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh.
- Watch funny videos (like this one). Follow a comedian or a sitcom.
- Spend time and play with pets. Why? Take a look at this video.
To conclude, don’t let go one day without a laugh 😂
What’s the funniest thing that happened to you recently? Which one is your favorite "recipe" to make yourself laugh?