Laughter is good for the soul. And now it seems, is good for the heart too! Laughter, outward chuckles, inward joy. Laughing at a joke or a funny movie…anything that gives you pleasure. There’s even laugh yoga and laughter workshops. Laughter helps relieve stress, enhances your mood, dissolves fear, lessons anxiety, contributes to team work, makes us attractive to others and more pleasant to be around. And laughter can have physical side effects too. Laughter will strengthen your immune system, reduce food cravings, increase your threshold for pain, release endorphins, lessen pain, decrease stress hormones, and lead to the general relaxation of your mind and your muscles. Studies are being done as to the effects of laughter on stimulating healing even in cancer cases.
Wikipedia says…”Laughter is found among various animals, as well as in humans. Among the human species, it is a part of human behaviour regulated by the brain, helping humans clarify their intentions in social interaction and providing an emotional context to conversations. Laughter is used as a signal for being part of a group-it signals acceptance and positive interactions with others. Laughter is sometimes seemingly contagious, and the laughter of one person can itself provoke laughter from others as a positive feedback.”
If you’ve been reading these blogs lately, you know my Dad just had a double bypass. He suffered a heart attack over seven years ago and was considered a high risk for surgery. He was in great physical shape and had been a vegetarian/healthy eater for many years. I knew it was an emotional issue and now I believe this; my Dad never laughed. Sure he chuckled lightly, but I don’t remember him ever having a full belly laugh. I’ve learned a lot about my Dad this last month. Could someone who doesn’t consider himself worthy, who feels guilt over some things he’s done in his life, actually make himself sick? Absolutely. We know emotions have just as much to do with health as the physical aspects.
So what about laughter? Did you know that laughter can help prevent heart disease? Can laugher, along with a healthy sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack? Is this possible? Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, dopamine and growth hormone. Laughter will increase the level of health-enhancing hormones, such as endorphins and neurotransmitters. It will increase the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. This is how laughter can strengthen your immune system and allow you to have fewer of the physical effects of stress. Internally, a good belly laugh will exercise your diaphragm and contract the abs, leaving you feeling more relaxed after. Laughter can be a distraction for anger, guilt, stress and other negative emotions. Humor can give us a lighthearted perspective on the way we view the challenges and threats in our life. It can make these problems less threatening and allow you to feel more positive.
A new study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, found that…”people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease…..We don’t know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels.” The most significant finding of this study was that “people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations.” These people displayed more anger and hostility and laughed less.
Watch a comedy…movie or TV, head to a comedy club with friends or have friends over for game night. And there’s always YouTube. Have you ever watched Stuart from Mad TV? Do a search for “Hamster on a piano” on YouTube. Now that’s funny. Find the humor in your life. Sometimes that can only happen after the fact…ha ha. Look back on what’s happened to you and laugh. Yeah, that’s been my life for the last few months! I like this one….Fake it until you make it! Fake laughter has the same benefits and can lead to real chuckles.
So maybe this blog is funny? Glad I made you laugh!
Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide!