Contributing Author: Daniel A Harper
Everybody loves a good laugh. It helps us feel good and makes every moment worth remembering. But laughter serves us more than just a good dose of happiness. It actually has long term benefits that prove to be essential in achieving a healthy mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Here are the top seven benefits of laughter.
- Lowers blood pressure. Japanese researchers have found that laughter and other elating activities like playing music can help expand blood vessels and lower a person's blood pressure. A lower blood pressure means lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
- Gives an internal workout. Laughter can be as beneficial as having a workout. It can have effects in the body that is similar to exercise such as toned diaphragm and abdominal muscles, improved cholesterol and blood pressure levels, decreased stress hormones, strengthened immune system and regulated appetite. Overall, the body's response to repetitive laughter is similar to repetitive exercise.
- Reduces stress. Laughter reduces stress by acting as a positive outlet or emotional release. It lowers stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine and is replaced by health-enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. It also serves as a positive distraction to stressful situations and negative emotions such as anger and depression.
- Improved immune system. Stress was proven to weaken the immune system which makes a person more prone to sickness and diseases. But since laughter can reduce stress levels, then it is true that laughter helps the immune system protect the body from infections and reduces the risk of contracting colds.
- Increases brain functions. A study in John Hopkins University Medical School shows that laughter and humor increases memory and learning which led to higher test scores. Since laughter helps in relaxing the body and reducing stress it becomes a big contributor to improved mental alertness and creativity.
- Relieves pain. Laughter serves as a natural pain killer by becoming a positive distraction thus taking your mind off the pain. It also triggers the release of endorphins, the chemicals in the brain usually found during exercise that makes us feel good.
- Social benefits. Laughter also has its social benefits by helping us connect with other people. Just like smiling and kindness, laughter is contagious which helps spread positivity and brings people closer. Laughter can also improve social interactions in stressful environments such as the workplace which reduces stress and improves productivity.
Never underestimate the power of laughter. Like exercise and healthy diet, it is a natural way of making and keeping yourself healthy both mentally, physically and spiritually.
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