Laughter is Nature’s Antidepressant
Originally published with Wellspring Collective.
Have you ever noticed how infectious laughter is? When you see someone laughing, you don’t even have to know why they’re laughing before you start laughing, too. You can be having a bad day but a good laugh will restore your mood. Laughing with another person, or group of people, increases an invisible bond between you of happiness and affection. Did you know that having a sense of humor and laughing gives your immune system a boost? It can lessen pain, increase energy, and protect you from stress and its effects. The best thing about laughter is it’s free, you get a kick out of it, and you don’t need an owner’s manual to use it.
Balance is very important to our health and laughter. So often we are medicated into a false sense of well-being through antidepressants. A good laugh will strengthen that balance between body and mind naturally. Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D. says, “Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”
According to helpguide.org:
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
The Benefits of Laughter
|Physical Health Benefits:
||Mental Health Benefits:
When we laugh, we actually change physiologically. Muscles are stretched throughout our face and body, blood pressure and pulse increase, our breathing is faster which sends more oxygen to our tissues. The benefits of laughter are not only for a quick pick-me-up, they are good for the long-term, too. According to Mayo Clinic, laughter may:
- Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
So the next time you read a good joke, laugh out loud. When you’re around someone with a contagious laugh, laugh with them. After you have a good laugh, check and see how you feel. I’ll be willing to bet you feel much better. Never lose your sense of humor, your health depends on it.