The phrase “laughter is the best medicine” has been spoken for years and even though there may not have been a whole lot of science behind it long ago, there is now. Laughter is one of the most healing therapeutic tools that we all have access to.
Laughing especially an “old fashioned belly laugh” or “laughing until you cry” can cause the release of endorphins from the brain into the blood stream. Endorphins act as pain and stress reducers in the body. They are often referred to as a natural analgesic. Endorphins are released during exercise, when you eat chocolate, and when you laugh.
Some studies have shown that laughter decreases the stress producing hormones of the body including cortisol (a stress hormone very prevalent in women), epinephrine (which increases anxiety reactions), and decreases the effects of some dopamine repressing acids. Other studies have shown that laughter can alter dopamine and serotonin activity, thereby causing a decrease in depression symptoms.
If you have ever laughed so much that it made you cry or your face muscles or stomach muscles hurt and then right after noticed how you feel – it is almost an anesthetic type of euphoria. I know for myself laughing like this has made me feel completely relaxed afterwards almost as if I had exercised for 30 minutes. It was the same effect on my mind and my body.
Opportunities for laughter can be found all around us. The Internet is quite a resource for finding things that make us laugh in pictures and videos. Movies offer another resource of laughter. Books another. And personal interactions provide some of the best opportunities to laugh.
Laughter truly can be therapy and this book offers some insight into how laughter can help.
Until next time,