We’ve all heard the phrase “laughter is good medicine.,” but did you know that there is scientific proof that it’s true? I’ve been reading several different studies about laughter and am impressed by how much good giggles, guffaws, chuckles and chortles can do to our health and well-being.
Laughter is Good Medicine For Our Hearts
A study at the University of Maryland’s American College of Cardiology found that laughter can reduce your blood pressure and help your blood vessels work better. This, in turn, reduces your risks of cardiovascular disease. Apparently, laughter has an anti-inflammatory effect on our body. It also reduces our stress levels which, in turn, reduces stress on our cardiovascular system.
Laughter Releases Endorphins
Endorphins are naturally produce chemicals in our bodies that reduce pain and increase pleasure. They produce a natural “high.” This, in turn, helps us feel calmer, more relaxed, and less pain. The benefit is highest when our laughter is social, meaning that we are with other people, laughing together. See the study synopsis here. In this study, the subjects’ pain thresholds were higher after watching comedies together. Watching other types of films did not have the same result.
Laughter is Good Medicine for Relationships
As stated above, social laughter is important. Laughing together creates social bonds. Have you ever been in a group where the laughter seems contagious? Sometimes people laugh simply because someone else is laughing even if they don’t know what was funny in the first place. It’s kind of like yawning. Both behaviors have been shown to create social connections.
And laughter doesn’t just bond groups of people. It’s also important to our one on one relationships. Couples who laugh together report higher satisfaction in their relationships. Both men and women rate potential partners who laugh more as more attractive. You can read a more scientific explanation on this here.
Laughter is Works Like an Antidepressant
Studies have also shown that laughter releases serotonin, a chemical found naturally in our brains. Serotonin is also a main ingredient in many antidepressant medications. Low levels of serotonin are connected to depression and anxiety. The research is not clear about how long the antidepressant effect lasts, but in the short term, laughter beats back depression,
Another study demonstrated that smiling and laughing release dopamine in our brains. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness and contentment. The study found that smile or laughing released the chemical and produced more good feelings. It’s like a positive cycle: smile, release dopamine, feeling happier, smile more, release dopamine, feel happier.
Laughter is Good Medicine For Our Brains
Laughter is good for our brains for all the reasons listed above. Our brains are healthier when our bodies are healthier. Having satisfying social relationships also improves brain health. And endorphins and serotonin are chemicals we need to keep our brains healthy.
In addition to all those reasons, laughter also helps create connections within our brain. There are different kinds of laughter. As our brain sorts out the nuances between an excited laugh, a sarcastic laugh, and other kinds of laughter, different parts of the brain are being utilized. Studies have shown that different parts of the brain show activity depending on what kind of laughter is present.
Healthier With Laughter
Over the holiday last week, my family and I had some really fun moments. In fact, there were a couple of times when I laughed harder than I had in quite some time. After a long belly laugh, I felt lighter. My smile lingered long after my laughter had stopped. And I felt a stronger connection to my husband and children. I put my study into action and found it really worked.
My recommendation is to find more things that make you smile and laugh. One of our fun moments came from a game called Mad Libs. I got the Thanksgiving version to keep the kids entertained at Grandma’s house. I had no idea it would be as much fun as it was. Another moment was a silly moment over dinner one night.
Silliness is big in our family. It works for us. Personally, I think being a little silly makes the world a better place. So does laughter. Apparently, it makes our world a healthier place to.
What makes you laugh? Please share your ideas and comments below.
Thanks for reading and please share.