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The Science Behind the Health Benefits of Laughter

I came across this article in Word for Today and it made me think:
 
“Author Barbara Johnson said, ‘Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper. It doesn’t permanently solve the problem, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.’
 
One day, comedian/author David Brenner was signing books. A young man handed him a newly purchased copy to be signed and said, ‘I want to thank you for saving my life.’
 
Without giving it much thought, Brenner replied flippantly, ‘That’s okay.’ But the young man stood his ground and said, ‘No, I really mean it!’
 
Brenner stopped signing and looked at him. The young man continued: ‘My father died. He was my best friend. I loved him and couldn’t stop crying for weeks, so I decided to take my own life.
 
The night I was going to do it, I happened to have the television on and you were hosting The Tonight Show. I listened to your opening monologue, and the next thing I knew I was laughing hysterically.
 
I realised then that if I was able to laugh, I was able to live. So I want to thank you for saving my life.’ Humbled and grateful, Brenner shook his hand and said, ‘No, I thank you.’
 
Experts confirm that laughter boosts your immune system, enhances your memory and learning abilities, relieves tension, slows your pulse rate and blood pressure, releases endorphins that reduce pain, decreases anxiety and stress, puts people at ease, and brings unity.
 
Furthermore, the effect lasts for eight to twelve hours. It promotes emotional healing, and best of all – it’s fun.
 
That’s why laughter is a wonderful way to reduce stress!”
 
 
Laugher saved someone’s life
 
If laughter can stop someone committing suicide, then there must be something in this. So I set about researching the benefits of laughter and found the following.
 
 
The health benefits of laughter
 
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.
Laughter burns calories. Okay, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humour outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.
 
 
Laughter helps you stay mentally healthy
 
Laughter makes you feel good. And this positive feeling remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humour helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
 
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better.
 
And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.
 
 
The link between laughter and mental health
 
Laughter stops distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
Laughter shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and diffuse conflict.
Laughter draws you closer to others, which can have a profound effect on all aspects of your mental and emotional health.
 
 
How to bring more laughter into your life
 
Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter, and like laughter, it’s contagious.
Count your blessings. Literally make a list of things you are grateful for.
When you hear laughter, move toward it and join in if you can.
Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily.
Bring humour into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”
 
 
The film wasn’t meant to be funny
 
Last night Julie and I watched a film on Netflix which wasn’t meant to be funny, but the over dramatic music and acting was so bad that we laughed through much of the film.
 
What I noticed is we forgot about lockdown, we spent two hours laughing our way through what was meant to be a serious film and we felt great. We went to bed happy and woke up feeling good. We even laughed about it this morning.
 
During this second lockdown we need to do everything we can to get us through this and laughter can be one of those things. Remember it’s not what happens to us which counts it’s how we respond which makes all the difference.
 
 
Thoughts for the week.

  1. Spend this week looking at ways to make you smile and laugh.
  2. Deliberately put on funny programmes or films and see if you can laugh.
  3. It is difficult to do this but if you do you will feel better.
  4. While you are laughing you forget your troubles for a while, and this is good.
  5. You aren’t pretending everything is ok you are just taking a break from worrying.


Well that’s it for this week have a fun and laughter filled weekend.
 
Warm regards

John

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