two people laughing

Laughing for mental health
how cracking up can help

11-Feb-2020

“Are you having a laugh?”

Children laugh as much as 400 times a day, while adults on average only laugh a miserable 14 times a day. When we laugh, our body releases endorphins, which are natural pain killers, into our blood stream. As a result, we feel happier and we relax easier. This reduces stress and anxiety which helps us cope with whatever is happening in our lives. Everybody loves a good joke, but how can laughter help our mental health?

 

How laughter can help our mental health

We’ve all been in awful situations where nothing seems to be going right and then somebody says something funny and the world seems just a little bit brighter. Laughter also has the power to bring hope.

We are just starting to understand the science behind health and humour, but hospitals have known the benefits for years. Which is why clowns walk the halls of children’s hospitals trying to get laughs out of the kids.

A 2017 study in the Journal of Dental and Medical Research, showed 40 patients undergoing hemodialysis (a process that helps control blood pressure and filter wastes from the body) listened to CDs of comedy shows for 16 30 minute sessions over eight weeks and saw a decrease in blood pressure[1].

Laughter may not cure all our woes but it can certainly lift your mood if you’re feeling a bit down provide temporary relief from pain.

How laughter may be beneficial to your health[2]

  • It boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress hormones
  • Decreases physical pain
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Eases anxiety and tension
  • Improves mood.

There’s even a few social benefits to laughter[3]

  • People are far more attractive when they’re laughing
  • It’s great for bonding
  • Defuses conflict
  • Promotes teamwork. 

Laughter really is contagious. Have you ever walked into a room and two people are in there laughing their heads off, and even though you didn’t hear the gag, you still smile?

 

How to get more laughs

So now you can start to see the benefits of having a laugh. But where do you go to get these laughs? It’s not exactly like there’s a little shop down the road that sells three laughs for a dollar. The first thing you might want to try doing is making a slight shift in your attitude.

  • Learn to laugh at yourself. We all make mistakes, we all screw up and we’ve all tripped over and pretended nothing happened
  • Expose yourself to humour. Watch a funny movie. Go see a comic. Encourage people to tell funny stories
  • Focus on positive things not negative things
  • Hang out with your funniest friend
  • Read a funny book
  • Ask Siri (or Google) to ‘make you laugh’ (seriously, do it)
  • Allow some space in your daily schedule to relax and have a laugh.

Humour could very well be one of the most underrated medical treatments in the world. And if it isn’t, at least you had a few laughs.

 

References

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322715145_Effect_of_Humor_Therapy_on_Blood_Pressure_of_Patients_Undergoing_Hemodialysis

[2] http://www.yalescientific.org/2011/05/can-laughter-be-therapeutic/

[3] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm

 

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