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This may strike you as funny but laughing offers powerful natural stress relief and other far ranging health benefits. It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s infectious, more so than any cold, cough or sniffle! And even better, laughter is good for you! According to studies, laughter may relieve pain, relieve stress, bolster happiness and one’s sense of well-being as well as build immunity. For our purposes, let’s focus on the role of laughter as a natural stress relief superstar!
Did you know that the average adult laughs 15 times a day? That seems like a lot of laughing until you learn that a child laughs approximately 400 times a day! Kids certainly do seem happier and less stressed out than the rest of us. So what do kids know about the natural stress relieving benefits of laughter that we adults seem to have forgotten?
- Laughter decreases the levels of stress hormones in our body like adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine and epinephrine while increasing the secretion of health promoting neurotransmitters and endorphins.
- Laughter increases our ability to fight infection at the cellular level which translates to a stronger immune system and fewer stress related physical symptoms. In other words, laughter can effectively protect our bodily systems from the effect of further stress.
- Laughter increases productivity, natural ability, creativity, confidence, efficiency and motivation — while stress, and its insidious cousins, worry and fear, stifle these traits.
- Laughter keeps us focused in the present. If you really think about it, now is all we have. The past and future don’t exist (except in our heads) so living fully in the present is critical because it’s the only time we can experience happiness.
- Laughter is social! Smiling and shared laughter binds people together and promotes greater intimacy. Laughing is infectious: your resulting good mood can help elevate the mood of others around you. Better moods mean reduced stress levels which can stop or prevent conflict, diffuse tension and help people acknowledge differing points of view.
- Laughter makes “life” not so bad. A light-hearted, humorous approach to life is important for keeping healthy. Those who are able to laugh during difficult times may view their circumstances as less threatening and serious and therefore, more tolerable than people who don’t laugh as much. “Laughers” find life more enjoyable because they don’t worry as much. While life isn’t always fun, it’s more fun with regular laughter.
- Laughter is relaxing as it invokes a physical and emotional release.
- OK, now we know why and how laughter is such a powerful natural stress relief method, here are some suggestions for how to get more of it in your life so we can catch up to the kids!
- Fake it! Your laugh doesn’t have to be genuine. The good news is the body can’t distinguish between fake laughter or real laughter and both versions produce the same “happy” body chemistry. The fake laughs will most likely lead to real laughter anyway!
- Laugh instead of cry!Instead of getting frustrated, try to laugh. Look for the ridiculousness of your quandary and note that someday you’ll look back on it and laugh. Well why not laugh about it now? Getting more lighthearted and silly makes laughing easier which helps you manage stressful events much better. And if you really can’t find anything to be amused about, be amused at NOT being amused. Make fun of how serious you are and that will help you find genuine amusement, laughter, and stress relief.
- Truly funny movies and TV comedies that make you laugh out loud are great natural stress relievers. This is an easy way to get laughter in your life thanks to online video services like Netflix.
- Hang with Friends. Socializing with good friends ups your laughter quotient considerably. Laughter is contagious so you’ll laugh more in the good company of others. Social activities like the movies, sports events and parties set you up for lots of laughs and good feelings. Be sure to share your time with people who make you feel good as often as possible.
- Do Laughter Yoga. Laughter Yoga can help recondition ourselves to laugh. It’s easy and fun and better yet, anyone can do it regardless of one’s physical stamina. If you’re a joiner, Laughter Yoga clubs are being started all over the country but you can also easily learn and on your own.
So many people look to the world for natural stress relief methods without realizing that they can relieve stress naturally themselves with simple laughter. The body is wired to laugh – it knows how to do it, regardless of what your ego tells you. It’s just out of practice. What’s more, you don’t need to be jokey, be well humored or even be happy to benefit from the stress relieving benefits of laughter. It’s easy to laugh your stress away – please give this awesome natural stress relief method a try and see for yourself.