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Laughter is the Best Medicine for Mind and Body

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August 30, 2016

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Avanti

“A day without laughter is a day wasted” – Charlie Chaplin

Research has shown that the health benefits of laughter are extensive. Humor is infectious. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness. It also causes healthy physical changes in the body by strengthening your immune system, boosting your energy, decreasing pain, and protecting you from the damaging effects of stress.

The chart below shows the physical, mental and social benefits of laughter: benefits of laughter                       http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm)

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

1. Boosts Immune System

Laughter boosts the immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.  Laughter provides a physical and emotional release. Also, positive thoughts and feelings, such as those released with laughter, have the potential to release neuropeptides (chemical signals in the brain), which help fight illness and stress2.

2Lowers Stress

Laughter provides a full-scale workout for your muscles and releases a rush of stress-busting endorphins. Since our bodies cannot distinguish between real and fake laughter, anything that makes you giggle will have a positive impact. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.  Laughing is an excellent way to reduce stress in our lives, and can help you to cope with and survive a stressful lifestyle.

3. Relieves Pain

Laughing can release endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, which can help ease chronic pain and make you feel good all over. Laughing, in fact, has been shown to increase the body’s natural killer cells and T-cells, which are types of cells that attack foreign material in our bodies. Laughter also keeps away negative emotions such as anxiety and depression, which tend to weaken the immune system.

4. Gives an Internal Workout

One of the benefits of laughter is that it can help you burn a few calories and tone your abs. When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs. Meanwhile, the muscles you are not using to laugh are getting an opportunity to relax. It also works out your shoulders and exercises the diaphragm and heart.

5. Protects Heart

Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases the flow of blood through your arteries, which can help lower blood pressure and protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Laughter is a great cardio workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness.

 MENTAL BENEFITS:

1. Adds Joy to Life

Senior Couple Sitting On Outdoor Seat TogetherJoy and humor are essential components in a balanced life.  A hearty laugh or an enjoyable activity will refresh you and can turn a troubling day into a positive one.  You can add more joy to your life by just letting go a bit. Relax, let loose, chill out, have fun…You will be healthier and happier.

2. Eases Anxiety/Fear

A good laugh can instantly begin to reduce stress hormones that are intertwined with anxiety. You benefit from reducing the level of stress hormones your body produces because hormone-level reduction simultaneously decreases the anxiety and stress impacting your body. The act of laughing is similar to deep breathing in its ability to increase the oxygen in our bodies. Along with reducing stress hormones, the increased oxygen in the body helps lead to muscle relaxation. All of this helps reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety.

3. Relieves Stress

Laughter can help to relax muscles, lower blood pressure, and increase the oxygen level in your blood. Laughter lowers cortisol levels in the blood and increases the T-body’s lymphocytes (T-cells) and immune system, counteracting the negative effects of stress.  In addition to cortisol, laughter reduces at least three other hormones, including epinephrine, dopac, and growth hormones, associated with the stress response

4. Improves Mood

Laughter can improve your mood and increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative. So smile, laugh and live longer!

5. Enhances Resilience

Laughing gives us the breathing space we need to release tension, to re-cooperate, and to regain a positive outlook. When we can laugh, whether it’s at ourselves and our misfortunes or at something else entirely, we can gain perspective and become more relaxed. This in turn helps us to feel stronger and adaptable so that we are more likely to let go and ‘go with the flow’ than resist the inevitable changes that come our way.

SOCIAL BENEFITS:

1. Strengthens Relationships

Laughter can also carry joy and resilience into relationships, which causes them to strengthen and improve overall. Humor not only lets a person be ore open and outgoing, it reinforces relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connections. Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting, and is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments and disagreements.  Incorporating more humor into your daily interactions can improve the quality of your love relationships, as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.

2. Attracts Others to Us

Laughter connects us with others, and can help you land a few new friends. When someone is constantly laughing and smiling, it helps attract people. Others like to surround themselves with the positive energy that a person who laughs a lot brings. Just as with smiling and kindness, most people find that laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more.

3. Improves Teamwork

Laughter can also encourage and enhance teamwork, forming powerful group bonds and relationships with others. Being consumed by conflict is hard when you’re allowing yourself to laugh at any situation and laugh at yourself. This decrease in clashes with others increases your social success.

4. Helps Diffuse Conflicts

Young business people lying in circle on white backgroundWhen conflict and disagreement throw a wrench in your relationship, humor and laughter can help lighten things up and restore a sense of connection. Used skillfully and respectfully, lighthearted humor can turn conflict and tension into an opportunity for shared fun and intimacy. It allows you to get your point across without getting the other person’s defenses up or hurting his or her feelings. Humor isn’t a miracle cure for conflicts but it can be an important tool to help you overcome the rough spots that afflict every relationship from time to time.

5. Promotes Group Bonding

Humor makes it easier for us to connect with others. . When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment. “Many companies set up annual weekend retreats or other “fun” events to boost the bonding and sense of camaraderie that generally marks effective teams. The retreat provides an opportunity for people to escape work-related pressures and just relax. Specific fun activities are planned up with the purpose of assuring that the desired bonding process will occur.” (http://www.laughterremedy.com/articles/team_building.html)

The saying “laugh and the whole world laughs with you” is more than just an expression… laughter really is contagious. If you have someone in your life that knows how to give you the giggles, keep that person as close as possible. Laughter and happiness go hand in hand, and happiness is the key to living a successful life.  What makes you happy?

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