I believe the statement laughter is the best medicine is true. It can affect our bodies in many ways that physical activity does, it can improve our mental health, it can diffuse an emotionally charged situation, it attracts people to us, and it can be used as a coping strategy. Let’s look at examples of how it can do this and more.
The Mayo Clinic says when you laugh it causes physical changes in your body. Here are several changes they list.
Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins released by your brain.
It activates and relieves your stress response and soothes tension.
It can improve your immune system, relieve pain, and improve your mood.
The Help Guide says that laughter relaxes the whole body, and it improves the function of blood vessels, and increases blood flow which can protect your heart.
Laughter can improve our mental health through the stress reduction already mentioned, but it can help in other ways as well. Laughter can be used as a coping mechanism when life becomes difficult. I once told a student that I had never seen her unhappy. She always seemed to be smiling and laughing. I was surprised when she told me she suffered from severe depression and laughter helped ease the pain, and it also kept others from seeing that pain. When I told my husband about it, he said he had done the same thing because his stepdad had been so tough on him. He turned to humor to cope with it.
Laughter can lighten your mood. It can also create those funny moments that you can remember and laugh about again. I have a French friend whom I would describe as elegant and reserved. If you don’t know him, you would say he is serious. He has a way of saying something hysterical when I least expect it, and he says it with such a serious expression that I laugh until my stomach hurts. Many of my funny memories involve him or my oldest daughter. All it takes is for one of them to say, “Do you remember when….?” And I am already laughing.
I used laughter in my class to diffuse emotionally charged situations. Although I was blessed with extraordinary students, occasionally someone would come into class angry, frustrated, or an emotional wreck and they might be disrespectful, or distracted and distracting. The emotions they were feeling were issues I usually inherited from another class, but once they were in my room, they became my issues. I tried as often as possible to diffuse any problems with a sense of humor because it seemed more effective to me than matching anger to anger.
Laughter is contagious and everyone can benefit from catching it. When you are in public and you hear someone laugh, it is hard not to smile, especially when it is the laughter of a child. My husband has the sound of a child’s laughter as his ringtone on his phone and I enjoy seeing people smile when it rings. Do you know someone whose laughter makes you laugh? If I started to laugh around my oldest sister, she would say, “Jen, stop!!!” then she would laugh uncontrollably, and she was lost. My oldest daughter is that person for me. I swear we cannot go out in public without crazy things happening that make us laugh. One of us will start laughing and the other will say, “No, no, think of serious things!” We do this because once we start laughing, we cannot stop.
Laughter can bring people together. When you laugh with someone, it forms a bond even if it’s temporary. You can turn a stranger’s day around by sharing some laughter.
Laughter does not come easily to everyone, but it is something worth doing more often to improve the quality of your life. Here are a few ideas to make you laugh.
Spend time with funny people.
Watch funny YouTube videos or funny movies.
Laugh at situations instead of letting them get you down.
Give laughter a try and see if it can make daily life more fun.