‘There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour’ – Charles Dickens
There are so many things that make us laugh – time spent with loved ones, watching a comedian, a funny film or a YouTube clip (try searching for laughing babies if you’ve never done that before!). Laughing with another person is great and it’s hard not to laugh when you see someone else really belly laughing – Charles Dickens was right!
But is laughter actually good for you?
Yes! Laughing strengthens your immune system, protects you from the damaging effects of stress, boosts your mood, helps you lose weight and reduces pain. It makes you feel more connected to others, one of the most important contributors to happiness. Laughter also makes you more alert, focussed and grounded. Laughing regularly will help you deal with problems, strengthen your relationships and support your mental and physical health. It is even thought to be a factor in longevity. For something that is completely safe, free and fun, I think that is truly amazing.
Thinking about it, I don’t actually laugh that much
The easiest way to instantly bring laughter into your life is to watch something funny or read a joke book and allow yourself to laugh out loud. You might feel strange at first, particularly if you are on your own but why not? Instead of smiling or just thinking ‘oh that was funny’, try a proper belly laugh. You could try doing fun activities like mini golf or going to a comedy club or having a games night with friends or family. Young children and pets can also provide plenty of humour.
If you’re struggling to find something funny you can actually just fake it. Believe it or not, fake laughter is just as beneficial as the real thing! Trust me, it really is possible! All you need to do is start with a smile then begin to giggle and carry on as long as you can. If you can laugh for 3 minutes or more, you’ll really benefit.
OK, it’s fun but how does it boost my physical and mental health?
Improves mood and reduces stress
Laughter relaxes the body and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. When you are laughing it is impossible to feel anxious or fearful. If you are feeling joyful, you will experience pleasure and lightness of your soul meaning you cannot feel anger, fear or hatred at the same time.
Releases physical tension and helps breathing
A good laugh is like going for an internal jog. Your lungs get a work out and your blood circulation is boosted. Just like going for an actual jog, your muscles will relax afterwards releasing any tension you’ve been holding in them. Your breathing will improve too.
Improves cardiovascular function
Laughing improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure, benefiting our heart and the function of blood vessels which can help protect against a heart attack or stroke.
Boosts your immune system
When you’re laid low with a cold or flu, you might not feel much like laughing but it’s worth it! Laughing boosts your immune system by creating white T-cells, helping to prevent infection and you’ll experience fewer symptoms. Plus the happier you are, the less likely you are to suffer in the first place.
Laughing increases levels of serotonin and endorphins, both natural painkillers. Ten minutes of proper belly laughing can relieve pain for around two hours. Even better you don’t have to wait for it to work like a painkiller, it’s instant.
Helps you to live longer
A study in Norway actually found that people battling cancer who laughed a lot, lived longer than those who rarely laughed.
Helps you lose weight
Well that might be a slight exaggeration but a proper belly laugh really does help tone your stomach because of the muscles you’re using. Laughing continuously for fifteen minutes burns the equivalent number of calories to a 10 minute jog or 300 sit ups! I know which I’d rather do!
With all those benefits what’s not to love?
So the tiny tweak here is to laugh! Whether you fake it, laugh out loud when you’re watching a comedy on your own or make a conscious effort to laugh with others, let’s add laughter into our day. I’m definitely going to come back to this topic in a few weeks as it’s making me happy just learning about it and there is so much more to discover!
If you’ve enjoyed this post, please let me know in the comments box and feel free to share on your socials.
Until next time xx