Laughter as Medicine

When was the last time you had a really good laugh? I’m talking Oh-my-word-I-can’t-breathe-and-I-think-I-might-have-a-six pack-after-this laughter. If this is a  distant memory, you might want to get those knock-knock jokes ready – because laughter isn’t just fun, it also has quite some health benefits!

But first things first – why do we even laugh?

If you think about it, uncontrollably expelling short bursts of air in the shape of weird sounds is a pretty odd thing to do. But even so, between breathing, talking and laughing, laughing will overrule the other two every time. How come? Laughter is actually a non-verbal form of communication, and allows us to express our emotions to others. Because of this, it is an important way to bond with other people. And it must have had some evolutionary value, otherwise why would we still be doing it? 

As you may know, humans are, by nature, social creatures. And laughter indeed served a purpose (and still does) regarding many health and social functions. As we laugh together, we are able to show empathy and share emotions with one another; we are able to connect. Our ancestors needed to cooperate with other humans to ensure their safety and health – so basically, their survival. Consequently, it was crucial for them to be able to form a bond with other people!

Stress – you’ve met your match

So, now that you know why we get the giggles, we turn to the “what” in this equation: What happens in our body when we laugh?

Laughter, for one, is a fantastic anti-stress tool. While short-lived bouts of stress are no problem and even necessary to keep you alert and unharmed, chronic stress – the kind you may feel constantly even if safe – , can lead to quite some negative health outcomes, including mental health issues or immune disorders.

Before you get stressed about stress, however, let’s get back to the topic at hand, which is how laughter can benefit you! You may already know that exercise is a great overall health-booster. But did you know that laughter has actually been shown to have comparable health benefits to moderate exercise? Sort of like “internal aerobics”, if you will.

This is because laughing, amongst other things, can stimulate your organs, as you take in more oxygen between those hearty “he-he-hes” (yes, we’re talking about those guttural gasps in between bursts of laughter that sound like a vacuum cleaner but just fuel the next bout of hilarity). Alongside this, laughter also increases your heart rate and with that the amount of oxygen in your blood (which is great news for your cardiovascular system!), and lowers your blood pressure. 

As if all of the above isn’t already fantastic enough, laughter can relieve tension, too: Perhaps also in a room, but in your body, too! In fact, it can relax your muscles for up to 45 minutes after you have laughed.

When you laugh, your body releases many lovely chemicals: Amongst those are endorphins (which are our body’s natural painkillers), serotonin, our happy hormone, and good chemical communicators – all of which can help counterbalance negative effects our stress hormones might have caused, and thereby boost our immune system.

Looking at the category of brains and mental wellbeing, laughter doesn’t disappoint there, either. Increased memory (and therefore learning abilities) as well as feelings of reward and pleasure caused by the production of dopamine are amongst the delightful outcomes of laughing. 

Laughter can also help ease depression and anxiety; for one, it is an excellent form of distraction, as you will find it very difficult, if not impossible to form negative thoughts if you are in the middle of laughing your head off. It’s the perfect little stress break!

Over-the-counter medicine: Laughter

After reading all this, you may wonder – is laughter actually like medicine?  How are doctors everywhere not already prescribing it to patients?

Actually, it has indeed been considered that prescribing laughter could be beneficial. After all, positive psychological and physiological effects have been found – and even if laughter doesn’t do wonders for a patient, that’s the wonderful thing about laughter as medicine: There are no side effects to fear!

Bring on the laughter

Does all this talk about laughter have you inspired to get more guffaws into your life? 

Hearty belly laughter is the one that does the trick, so whatever you need to get those stomach muscles aching, get right to it.

Of course what makes you laugh is very individual, but in case you don’t know where to start, we’ve got some ideas for you:

  1. Ever tried laughter yoga? This is a practice in which you do different laughter-focused exercises. The laughter may start off being intentional, but quickly turns into real hilarity.
  2. Compile a list of your favourite comedians, comedy shows, or funny videos on Youtube – or you can simply browse to find someone/something new that gets those giggles going. 
  3. What about hanging up photos of funny memories on your wall, or some cards with funny phrases on them?
  4. Think about trying gratitude journaling – name three things that made you grateful/happy that day. This helps you focus on the positive, so you might be able to see the good, humorous side of things more easily. 

Spend time with the people you love – after all, it is those whom we love that make us laugh. And laughter is infectious (the only kind of infectious we like in health), so what could be better than to share a cackle and bond with your favorite people?

Keywords: laughter, mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, social wellbeing

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Laughter as Medicine

When was the last time you had a really good laugh? I’m talking Oh-my-word-I-can’t-breathe-and-I-think-I-might-have-a-six pack-after-this laughter. If this is a  distant memory, you might want to get those knock-knock jokes ready – because laughter isn’t just fun, it also has quite some health benefits!

But first things first – why do we even laugh?

If you think about it, uncontrollably expelling short bursts of air in the shape of weird sounds is a pretty odd thing to do. But even so, between breathing, talking and laughing, laughing will overrule the other two every time. How come? Laughter is actually a non-verbal form of communication, and allows us to express our emotions to others. Because of this, it is an important way to bond with other people. And it must have had some evolutionary value, otherwise why would we still be doing it? 

As you may know, humans are, by nature, social creatures. And laughter indeed served a purpose (and still does) regarding many health and social functions. As we laugh together, we are able to show empathy and share emotions with one another; we are able to connect. Our ancestors needed to cooperate with other humans to ensure their safety and health – so basically, their survival. Consequently, it was crucial for them to be able to form a bond with other people!

Stress – you’ve met your match

So, now that you know why we get the giggles, we turn to the “what” in this equation: What happens in our body when we laugh?

Laughter, for one, is a fantastic anti-stress tool. While short-lived bouts of stress are no problem and even necessary to keep you alert and unharmed, chronic stress – the kind you may feel constantly even if safe – , can lead to quite some negative health outcomes, including mental health issues or immune disorders.

Before you get stressed about stress, however, let’s get back to the topic at hand, which is how laughter can benefit you! You may already know that exercise is a great overall health-booster. But did you know that laughter has actually been shown to have comparable health benefits to moderate exercise? Sort of like “internal aerobics”, if you will.

This is because laughing, amongst other things, can stimulate your organs, as you take in more oxygen between those hearty “he-he-hes” (yes, we’re talking about those guttural gasps in between bursts of laughter that sound like a vacuum cleaner but just fuel the next bout of hilarity). Alongside this, laughter also increases your heart rate and with that the amount of oxygen in your blood (which is great news for your cardiovascular system!), and lowers your blood pressure. 

As if all of the above isn’t already fantastic enough, laughter can relieve tension, too: Perhaps also in a room, but in your body, too! In fact, it can relax your muscles for up to 45 minutes after you have laughed.

When you laugh, your body releases many lovely chemicals: Amongst those are endorphins (which are our body’s natural painkillers), serotonin, our happy hormone, and good chemical communicators – all of which can help counterbalance negative effects our stress hormones might have caused, and thereby boost our immune system.

Looking at the category of brains and mental wellbeing, laughter doesn’t disappoint there, either. Increased memory (and therefore learning abilities) as well as feelings of reward and pleasure caused by the production of dopamine are amongst the delightful outcomes of laughing. 

Laughter can also help ease depression and anxiety; for one, it is an excellent form of distraction, as you will find it very difficult, if not impossible to form negative thoughts if you are in the middle of laughing your head off. It’s the perfect little stress break!

Over-the-counter medicine: Laughter

After reading all this, you may wonder – is laughter actually like medicine?  How are doctors everywhere not already prescribing it to patients?

Actually, it has indeed been considered that prescribing laughter could be beneficial. After all, positive psychological and physiological effects have been found – and even if laughter doesn’t do wonders for a patient, that’s the wonderful thing about laughter as medicine: There are no side effects to fear!

Bring on the laughter

Does all this talk about laughter have you inspired to get more guffaws into your life? 

Hearty belly laughter is the one that does the trick, so whatever you need to get those stomach muscles aching, get right to it.

Of course what makes you laugh is very individual, but in case you don’t know where to start, we’ve got some ideas for you:

  1. Ever tried laughter yoga? This is a practice in which you do different laughter-focused exercises. The laughter may start off being intentional, but quickly turns into real hilarity.
  2. Compile a list of your favourite comedians, comedy shows, or funny videos on Youtube – or you can simply browse to find someone/something new that gets those giggles going. 
  3. What about hanging up photos of funny memories on your wall, or some cards with funny phrases on them?
  4. Think about trying gratitude journaling – name three things that made you grateful/happy that day. This helps you focus on the positive, so you might be able to see the good, humorous side of things more easily. 

Spend time with the people you love – after all, it is those whom we love that make us laugh. And laughter is infectious (the only kind of infectious we like in health), so what could be better than to share a cackle and bond with your favorite people?

Keywords: laughter, mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, social wellbeing

More from wellyou

  • Letting go

Simplifying your life with minimalism

We all own a lot of stuff. But what purpose do all of those things serve? More importantly, is it possible that some of that extra stuff is actually doing us more harm than good?

  • fear of missing out

How to cope with fear of missing out

We’ll take a closer look at what FOMO really is, and we’ll discuss some helpful practices to cope with feelings of FOMO in a healthy, mindful way, so that we can all keep our mental and social well-being in check.

Get to know us

Wanna chat? Contact us at

info@well-you.com

Get to know us

Wanna chat? Contact us at
info@well-you.com

Get to know us

Wanna chat? Contact us at
info@well-you.com