It seems strange to parse out laughter for health and life benefits, doesn’t it? Laughter is laughter, an involuntary response to something funny. That’s all. But you can feel it when you enjoy a deep, hearty laugh, cant’ you? Uplifted, happy, renewed.
When is the last time you laughed until you cried? (The presidential election doesn’t count.) When life becomes too serious, our minds and bodies notice. We’re sluggish, slumped over shells of life, barely making it through the workday. Laughter changes that. Perhaps, you’ve never thought of laughter as a source of health, but you’ve known it has restorative power when you heard someone say, “Thanks for making me laugh. I needed that.”
They were right. We do need that. Easier than healthy eating and cheaper than medication, laughter is the cheapest, most accessible, and unifying health decision we have available to us.
Here’s why stopping to enjoy a good joke is not a waste of time:
- Laughter reduces stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, which alleviates pain
- Laughing gives a healthy boost to your immune cells
- Laughter lowers blood pressure and improves cardiac health
- Having a good belly laugh improves lymph flow — our lymphatic system (our detoxification pathway) doesn’t have a pump, so it relies on our muscle contractions and breathing for circulation. You know what makes our muscles contract and us breath deeply? Freezing water. I’m joking, but I guess I’m not wrong, am I?
- As you might anticipate from our discussion about muscle contraction, laughter really does what it feels like it does: works and tones your abdominal muscles. Maybe you could trade in those old ab-exercise DVDs for a light-hearted friend?
It’s good to know how our everyday habits and experiences impact our lives. Now, when your office clown won’t stop joking around long enough for you to focus on your work, you can take heart by knowing that your laughter is actually adding much to your life (and productivity).
And the best news is that we have laughter all around us. (Especially when we fall down on the sidewalk in town, am I right? Just me? Okay.) Funny friends, hilarious videos on the internet, and every child in our lives make us laugh. When you feel sluggish and worn down, treat your mind and your body to an uplifting conversation with a friend or one of those shamefully funny videos you previously thought wasn’t worth your time. I know that’s a lot to suggest after you just read a blog post that’s barely worth your time. Did you giggle? You’re welcome.