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Laughter is good medicine

Living Well

Maybe you know someone who laughs a lot? Don’t you find the energy of their good humour infectious in the best kind of way? It’s almost impossible not to feel happier when you are around people who constantly smile and chuckle throughout the day.

People who bring levity and good humour to everyday triumphs, trials and tribulations seem to better navigate all situations, including those that would render some of us speechless or prone to our beds in a tearful funk.

But if we’re open to laughing something off, instead of feeling smug, sad or grumpy about it, we can not only enhance our mood, but extend positive vibes to others.

When a stranger or friend smiles at you and you smile back, your bodies both release neurotransmitters in your brain called endorphins and they make you feel good.

Even a fake or theatrical smile will accomplish this. It’s the movement and positioning of your facial muscles that causes the switch and your body doesn’t know that you’re faking it. Simulated laughing will accomplish the same thing. Try it and see if you feel just a smidgen happier while smiling or laughing rather than scowling or growling, for example.

Laughter therapy is an authentic healing tool; a formal means to train facial feedback to stimulate endorphins and dopamine, relieving stress, lessening pain and making us feel happier. But you don’t need an organized laughter therapy session to accomplish this because you can do it yourself for free and on your own time.

Simply watch a funny movie, tell a funny joke and surround yourself with people who make you smile and laugh. Or, be one of those people yourself and inspire and help others by way of the benefits of your sense of humour. Have fun and laugh together.

Not convinced that laughter is the best medicine after all? Well, research does indicate that laughter can certainly help us both psychologically and physiologically, during times of stress, malady and disease.

In addition to releasing endorphins, when we laugh we also physically consume more oxygen, boosting lung capacity and blood oxygen levels, with benefits over time similar to aerobic exercise. University of Maryland scientists’ studies showed that watching a comedy movie, over a dramatic film, also helps to lower blood pressure.

And the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is continuing ongoing studies indicating that laughter releases immune boosting and cancer-fighting cells in the body. 

Now that’s something to smile about!