Laughter is the best medicine.
Humor has a magical way of getting humans through some of the most dire times in their lives. A little humor can go a long way towards alleviating anxiety, sadness, fear, and grief that we may feel.
Sometimes, finding the humor in a particularly dreadful situation can stop our downfall into the rabbit holes of despair. A little humor can lift us up if only for a short time providing a brief respite from whatever trial we are suffering at the moment.
Laughter releases chemicals into the brain and there are many therapeutic benefits of laughter on mental health. Laughter swaps cortisol in our system with oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. Cortisol is the chemical created when we are under stress. Definitely not the good feeling chemicals that laughter produces.
Dopamine can enhance learning, motivation, and attention. It also increases happiness through the motivation and reward cycle of releasing feel good hormones into the brain and body. Laugh at something or with someone and your brain and body is rewarded with feeling good, happy, motivated and attentive.
Oxytocin is the “empathy hormone” or a bonding chemical. It creates feelings of relatedness or connectedness in the bloodstream. It brings us closer to others. Laughter does the same thing. It connects us with others through shared experiences of things that we find funny together. Successful marriages are often filled with shared humor, which brings people closer together.
Endorphins trigger feelings of pleasure. Endorphins can increase immune functioning, relieve stress, improve cardiovascular health, reduce anxiety, make one feel safer, and improve mood.
Laughter can also work to cause the limbic system to reappraise feelings of fight or flight. It can also if used before some expected experience of pain say getting a shot it can increase our ability to tolerate pain. Laughter is a reset button of sorts. In moments of sadness, anxiety, or fear we can laugh, really laugh and the brain relaxes its response.
The best laughter that releases the most good chemicals is the good old belly laugh. Ones where you are crying tears of happiness, your face hurts, and your belly muscles get a workout. It’s like a super shot of happiness espresso to your brain and body.
Laughing with others is a lot easier especially when the other person provides something to laugh about. But what about when you are alone and need a good chemical pick me up? What makes you laugh? Really laugh? Is it movies, TV shows, funny videos? Use what makes you laugh if you need a pick me up and laugh away all by yourself!
Lough out loud. By yourself or with others. Most people when they see or hear other people laughing they laugh too, it’s the same with smiles. Laughter is contagious and very, very good medicine.
Find your funny often. The benefits for your brain and body are tremendous and the affects it can have on your mental heath are amazing.
Laugh out loud – a lot.
Until next time be well,