It turns out humour is no laughing matter (other than the act of laughing itself that is). Truth be told, there are some serious well-being benefits to be gained.
Laughter has been tested (quite literally) and the results are… it’s good for you. Very good for you. Not just for you either, those around you benefit too.
Some people have gone so far as to claim that laughter isn’t just good for your emotional well-being, it’s also good for your physical well-being.
Whatever your circumstances humour can help. So much so, you should be making a point of finding something funny every single day and here’s why…
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The well-being benefits of laughter.
Laughter has been known to trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Although there have been limited studies in this area – the funding just hasn’t been there – the research that has been conducted has delivered some encouraging results.
Here are just some of the findings:
Physical benefits of laughter
- Strengthens immune system
- Improves the function of blood vessels & increases blood flow
- Lessens physical symptoms of stress
- Increases tolerance of pain
- Potential to lower risk of heart attack
- Decreased overall rise in glucose levels after eating
- Reduces inflammation (reduced hyperinflation of the lungs in people with COPD and people with rheumatoid arthritis) [7&8]
- Improves digestion
- reduces muscle tension
Emotional benefits of laughter
- Creates a feeling of joy
- Inspires hope & optimism
- Keeps you grounded
- Connects you to others
- Improves your mood (you can’t feel anxious or sad whilst laughing)
- Increases focus & energy
- Helps you release anger quicker and forgive sooner
- Puts your problems into perspective
- Triggers the release of feel-good neurohormones, such as endorphins and dopamine
That’s a lot of benefits isn’t it?
The best news is the positive feelings remain even after the laughter has abated. Plus laughter is completely free.
Laughter as part of the healing process.
One of the most famous stories of healing through laughter is that of Norman Cousins, who documented his recovery from chronic illness with the inclusion of laughter therapy. After success with his own treatment, he later established a Humour Research Task Force with medical staff from UCLA to pursue clinical research on humour.
But it’s not just Cousins, quite often, cancer survivors or patients with chronic illnesses attribute humour as a successful aid to their recovery. No one is saying here that laughter is the only medicine or even ‘the best medicine’, but it certainly can aid with the healing process – it’s a fun one to try isn’t it?
How to inject humour into your daily life
Children are great at doing this naturally, they often easily find the humour in anything. We kind of lose that as adults and potentially need to make more of a conscious effort to seek out the funny, but it is easy to do.
Good to know: Find your funny! Laughter is subjective not everyone finds the same things humorous. Work out what really tickles your funny bones.
Start with a smile.
As I’ve written before, smiling is pretty fantastic in itself. A simple smile can lead to laughter so, just start with a smile and go from there
Watch more of what makes you laugh
It couldn’t be more simple than this. Put on your favourite comedy movie or sitcom and enjoy.
Top Tip: Sitcoms with audience laughter stimulate more of a laughter response in you.
Listen to comedy podcasts or audiobooks
Great for commutes and times when you just want to close your eyes and let the laughter envelope you.
Surround yourself with it
Put up posters or pictures that make you chuckle. Get yourself a joke a day calendar.
It only takes 20-30 seconds of fake laughing before your brain is unable to tell the difference!
Yes, this really is a thing! Watch this YouTube clip to see for yourself – despite myself, I was howling along!
Similar to laughter yoga, these are clubs where people meet to take part in communal laughing – admittedly this might not be happening in person at the moment but virtual events may still be taking place. Google ‘Laughter clubs near me’ to find out more.
Again back to YouTube, a quick search of ‘comedy’ and you’ve got free stand-up for days.
Got any funny stories for me? Heard any good jokes recently? Build humour into your everyday conversations. My family and I always have a ‘joke-off’. We search for jokes online to share with each other and see who comes up with the funniest. My 10-year old son won last week with, ‘Where do you find a horse with no legs? Where you left him’ People are a great source of comedy – tap into it!
Time for a laugh…
With all the potential well-being benefits coupled with exceptionally simple and often free ways to include humour, it really is a great idea to make laughing a daily occurrence. Not just for fun – although it will be a lot of fun – a good 20-minutes of uplifting belly laughing means you’ll have done yourself a world of good.
- Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan: Healing Through Humour
- Readers Digest.com: 9 Facts You Never Knew About Laughter
- Huffington Post: New Study Proves Laughter Is The Best Medicine
- Nevo O, Keinan G, Teshimovsky-Arditi M. Humor and pain tolerance. HUMOR.
- The University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Healing Benefits of Humor & Laughter
- Hayashi K, Hayashi T, Iwanaga S, et al. Laughter lowered the increase in postprandial blood glucose. Diabetes Care.
- Brutsche MH, Grossman P, Muller RE, et al. Impact of laughter on air trapping in severe chronic obstructive lung disease. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis.
- Matsuzaki T, Nakajima A, Ishigami S, Tanno M, Yoshino S. Mirthful laughter differentially affects serum pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine levels depending on the level of disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology
- Charlene Gayle Story Pattillo, BSN, RN, OCN, and Joanne Itano, PhD, RN, OCN: Laughter is the Best Medicine, Oncology Nursing Update 2001
- Helpguide.org: Laughter is the best medicine
- Weisse, Allen B. “Humor in medicine: Can laughter help in healing?.” Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center) vol. 30,3 (2017)
Do you love laughter like me? What or who makes you laugh the most? Do you feel you could laugh more often? Were you aware that laughter can boost your well-being? Whatever you’d like to say, or ask, simply leave me a comment in the box below. I’m happy to help and I always love to hear from you!