“Laughter is the best medicine”– Bennet Cerf and, Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart is like medicine.”
Ellen Jacob, author of ‘You’re the Best Friend Ever’ states: “Whoever said laughter is the best medicine was right — it’s the glue that holds friendships together. To laugh together at life’s ridiculous turn of events makes those events bearable. To laugh at the funny things in life makes life wonderful.”
Recent research has proven that laughter has many health benefits.
Dr. Judy Kuriansky, the renowned international psychologist and author of ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to a Healthy Relationship’, says that laughter helps form a bond between 2 people.
“Laughter can become contagious and is a great technique to share your experience with another person,” she says. “It’s also a way to switch your brain into a happier mode when you are feeling sad. You can start with a chuckle and work your way up to a full, all-out belly laugh. Don’t hold back! Laughing helps release tension and anxiety because it interrupts the patterning of our brain so we can let go and stop obsessing over what’s worrying us.”
A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that when people gathered to watch 30 mins of comedy clips, their bodies released endorphins or “feel good” chemicals in the brain through opioid receptors causing feelings of “euphoria” without the obvious downside of taking drugs.
Other ways laughter helps the body include the following:
- Exercise. “When you allow yourself a good, old fashioned belly laugh, you are using your stomach muscles, shoulders, opening up your lungs and actually improving your posture,” says Dr. Kuriansky. “We spend so much of our time slumped over our devices that a good laugh can open up the heart and our bodies.”
- Relationships. According to Forbes, couples who laugh together report having higher-quality relationships. Both men and women surveyed said that having a sense of humor is important in choosing a mate.
- Cardiovascular health. Laughing appears to have an anti-inflammatory effect that protects blood vessels and heart muscles from cardiovascular disease, according to a study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center. It expands the inner lining of the blood vessels to allow blood to flow more freely. Stress, by the way, has the opposite effect. It causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow. “The benefits of laughter cannot be understated,” says Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Benico Barzilai, MD. “Laughter leads to an immediate reduction in the body’s negative response to stress and causes the blood vessels in the body — including the heart — to increase blood flow as needed.”
- Stress reduction. Laughter has been found to have other beneficial effects on our biochemistry, including a reduction of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, which can cause cell damage.
- Boosts immune system. Laughter boosts the number of antibody-producing cells that can lead to a stronger immune system.
While we are bombarded by bad news every day, Dr. Kuriansky suggests making an effort to look at the lighter side of things.
“It’s funny how we can look back at embarrassing moments and get a good laugh at the pratfalls we took or the times we goofed up, so make it a point to look for the brighter side of situations even if they don’t seem so cheerful at the time,” she says. “Watch good old-fashioned comedy shows and spend more time with joyful friends and family.”
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Laugh and Live lively