Laughter is the best medicine. You've heard that before, right?
As you may know, this is not just a wise folk saying. While it may not be the best medicine, scientific evidence continues to confirm that humor and laughter are great for our well-being for a number of reasons.
- Laughter is good for your heart and it increases blood flow
- It lowers stress hormones like cortisol and even improves memory
- It stimulates the immune system
- It lowers blood pressure and suppresses hormones that stimulate appetite
- It raises the pain threshold
Laughter is a wonderful way for everyone to boost their well-being because it is free and it feels great! In addition to all the physical benefits, laughter is important for our social well-being because it brings people together in positive ways. It is a key part of forming enduring romantic relationships, and an important way that we regulate stressful social situations.
So, how can you be sure to get the power of laughter in your life?
- Identify Funny Favorites — What are your favorite kinds of humor? Create a list of your favorite TV series, movies, and comedians so that you can access them easily when you want some laughter therapy. You can even put some of your favorite funny Youtube videos in a playlist (like this one).
- Create Fun with Others - Find opportunities to gather with others to enjoy lighthearted activities. Game nights, comedy club outings, or other organized activities are great ways to create fun moments that can turn into funny stories. Research suggests that we are thirty times more likely to laugh with others than when we are alone, so taking advantage of these kinds of situations makes good sense.
- Try Laughter Yoga - Laughter Yoga uses non-humorous approaches to stimulate laughter and access its benefits. To date, research has found that it has positive effects on measures of general health, sleep, social functioning, anxiety, and heart rate variability.
- Practice Shifting Your Perspective — Sometimes our most frustrating experiences can turn out to be our funniest stories later. One of the key benefits of mindfulness is the ability to recognize your experience without judgement. You can use your mindfulness skills informally when you're in the midst of a difficult situation. As you notice your experience, choose to shift your perspective to one that offers humor. Imagine yourself telling a funny story about this situation in the future. Where can you find the fun?
Here is one video that always makes me laugh:
What about you? What makes you laugh? Please share your favorite strategies, stories, or videos with us in the comments below!