Laughter is the Best Medicine

laughter is the best medicine for anxiety and depression

We all know the old adage that “laughter is the best medicine” and, honestly, who doesn’t want to laugh like a child being tickled? We have all heard it at one point, or several points, in our lives. You may have questioned the accuracy of this statement in the past. Maybe it’s an answer you didn’t take time to seek out. Perhaps you heard it at the wrong time- maybe you were in negative head space and it sounded like nagging when someone said it. Well, now’s the time to talk about it. Get comfortable, clear your mind, and get ready for the show.

How do you feel on days you don’t laugh and can’t seem to find humor in anything? Do you feel trapped in a funk? Do you ever feel like you’re living in a black and white movie? We have all been there at one point or another. Laughter is what brings color into our movies and brings in beauty. Laughter benefits us physically, emotionally/mentally, and socially. It’s time we talk about how those painful belly laughs make our lives easy and enjoyable in the long-term.

Physical benefits of laughing

It may come as a shock that laughter can benefit your physical health, but it’s no joke! Laughter can play a part in living a long and healthy life. Take The Dalai Lama as an example. You will never see him speak without a smile or laughter. He was born in 1935 and embodies peace and joy. Laughter can contribute to a long and healthy life with both short-term and long-term benefits.

Laughter can: 

Relax the body and relieve physical tension. Have you ever experienced the kind of laughter that makes your face hurt and leaves you feeling like you had an intense abdominal workout? This kind of laughter can leave your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes! Are you in? I know I am.

Boost the immune system. By reducing cortisol in our body, laughter helps us be healthy. Laughing can help your immune system increase cell production that will fight off threats, such as illness, infection, and disease. Regular laughter may even extend your life span. I’ll take a laughter supplement, please and thank you!

Protect your heart. As it has been shown to improve functioning of blood vessels and blood flow, laughter may lower risks for heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. Laughter is literally good for your heart.

Release endorphins and it feels so good. These endorphins are the feel-good chemical in our body that gives us an overall sense of wellbeing. Do you find yourself flying high after a good laugh? There’s your reason!

Reduce physical pain. By stimulating release of endorphins, laughter can help reduce your pain. You may find humor is an integral part of someone’s life who suffers chronic illness and/or chronic pain. Because it can help relieve pain, laughter keeps us coming back for more and becoming our own comedian. I mean, after all, chronic illness warriors do have infinite content.

Mental health benefits of laughter

In addition to some of the many physical benefits listed, laughter has a wonderful impact on our mental health. When we go through days without laughter, we continue life in greyscale. Laughter brings color into the things around you and makes life beautiful. Could you imagine a sunset without the vibrant colors? By improving the state of your mental health, laughter can make life beautiful.

Laughter can:

Prevent distressing emotions. It’s impossible to feel bad while laughing. If you experience regular anxiety, depression, or anger and feel like you can’t catch a break, laugh. Laughter can certainly make us cry, but it’s for all the right reasons. Laughing is how you catch that break you need!

Relax and recharge your internal battery. Laughing helps alleviate stress you may have that keeps your world monochromatic. A nice laugh can recharge your energy and help you focus on tasks. Being productive feels great and laughter can help you get there. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Shift your perspective on things. Instead of seeing things in black-and-white, regular laughter can help you see the beautiful colors in life daily. Having regular positive experiences helps keep us from feeling overwhelmed. Time to clear out the mental clutter and make room for a nice laugh.

Increase our sense of control. With so many things out of our control in the world, it’s important to take control of what we can. It’s possible to take control of your emotions and laughter is a great side-kick. Using humor in difficult situations helps you feel powerful. Is Super-Giggler a good superhero name? No? I’ll see myself out…

Bring others close to you. Having close social ties and healthy relationships helps foster happiness. Using laughter can bring like-minded people into your life who can contribute to regular fun and laughter. Who said goofing off wasn’t productive? It’s great for your mental health!

Social benefits of laughter

As shown above, laughter brings people close to you. But there are other social benefits of laughter. Social benefits can help bring color into our world on a daily basis. As social beings, social benefits of laughter are great for making life easier and more enjoyable.

Laughter can:

Defuse conflict. A nice laugh after an argument or disagreement helps you move on without holding onto animosity or resentment. When you end a difficult conversation with a solution and a joke, you are reinforcing healthy communication. Laughing feels good and when paired with communication, we mentally pair communication with happiness, thus reducing tendencies to bottle emotions. Let laughter be the cork in your negative emotion bottle.

Bond with others and feel connected. Having close emotional ties with others can reduce daily stress. When we regularly laugh and enjoy life, we share this joy with others and improve the health of our relationships. Laughter is great for everyone involved so get a group of friends who will make you laugh like a toddler popping bubbles!

Lead you into fun activities. When someone laughs regularly, they are less likely to be bogged down by negative thinking. As a result, they may feel more spontaneous and release inhibitions holding them back from having some fun. In other words, laughter is fun and breeds more fun and laughter. It’s like a cycle of enjoyment you’ll never want to get off!

How to laugh more

So, are you convinced yet? Does learning about some of the many benefits of laughter give you the motivation to make some positive changes in your life? It’s important to have fun in life despite the events around us. Laughing feels good and you deserve to feel good! So let’s review how you can laugh more and bring color into your life.

It all starts with a smile. Smiling is a contagious precursor to laughter. Smiles create more smiles and are a great first step to having laughter in your day. Try to be mindful to smile at others regularly. Trust me when I say, there is always a reason to smile (even if you’re smiling just so you can laugh later- no judgement, be selfish)!

Practicing gratitude. Gratitude helps you stay in a positive state of mind. Regular gratitude can keep the color in your life rather than letting the color fade away. There is always something to be grateful for in any given day. I’m grateful that I can laugh at my clumsiness!

Move towards laughter and bring laughter to you. If you hear laughter, you can move towards it and join the interaction if it is not a private conversation. You can surround yourself with fun and playful people to increase the likelihood of laughing. You can tell a funny story or ask others if they’ve had anything funny happen lately.

Create opportunities to laugh. You probably do this regularly without even realizing it. Some ways to create opportunities to laugh include watching funny TV, movies, or videos, playing with your animals or your children, go to a comedy club, or check out laughter yoga (it’s a riot). You can also do something silly to make yourself laugh, such as dancing, making up songs, or goofing around with loved ones.

Engage in fun activities. Finding fun things to do can help set you up for some nice laughter! For example, you can go bowling, play billiards, or sing karaoke. Fun boardgames with others can also set you up for some laughter success. Play a Scrabble game dedicated to strictly using non-words and see what you come up with!

Find your inner child. How often do you hear about people keeping their childish sense of humor? By channeling the silly kid within you, you can laugh regularly. Have you ever heard toddlers laugh uncontrollably? You can still laugh uncontrollably as an adult! Live with some childlike joy and laugh like a 2-year-old! Thank me later.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

There are many ways to help set you up for daily laughter. By dedicating some of your day to finding reasons to laugh, you fill your world with color and beauty. Life isn’t meant to be a struggle, and it doesn’t have to be. Remember that you can be in control of laughter rather than waiting on external cues to laugh. Don’t hesitate. Find a reason to laugh today!

Sometimes we may have a harder time finding a reason to laugh. Depression, anxiety, and a tendency to experience anger can be a roadblock to laughter. Mental health struggles can make life feel like you’re navigating life with a blindfold. Working with a humorous and compassionate therapist, like Nadya Clontz, APC can help you removed that blindfold and bring color into your life. You don’t have to struggle on your own. If you’re ready to be bring some joy and color into your life, schedule an appointment with a counselor who can help today either through the client portal or call the office at 770-283-8386. We can help you find the color in your life and take advantage of opportunities to laugh. 

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