Laughter is powerful medicine. It can help dissolve stress. Notice how your whole body feels more relaxed after laughing. It also triggers the release of dopamine, the feel-good chemical, in the brain. It may help reduce pain and boost your immune system. And a good belly laugh may help protect your heart. Laughing out loud gets your diaphragm moving which improves blood flow. Paul McGhee, Ph.D. said, “Your sense of humor is one the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” Your sense of humor can help you to be resilient—help you bounce back from physical and emotional challenges.
Your sense of humor may also be a helpful prescription for your relationship. Finding the humor in stressful situations may help you to feel less threatened and more open to working together to find solutions. Humor and playfulness produce positive feelings and help build emotional connections. When you laugh together and smile at each other you will feel more bonded to each other. Humorous positive interactions may help protect your relationship in the inevitable difficult times.
Suggestions to add a dose of laughter to your day:
• Smile. Smiling is like a warm up for laughing. Try choosing to smile, even if you have to start when you do not feel like smiling. Your mood will improve and you will be more open to laughing.
• Look for humor. Watch for things to smile or laugh about. If you cannot find any in your life at the moment YouTube has lots of examples.
• Feel and Express Gratitude. Record what you are grateful for; make the list specific and varied. Re-reading this list will help bring a smile to your face. Gratitude can help you move away from negative thoughts that may block your sense of humor.
• Play with a child or a pet. Laughter typically is easy for children and laughter tends to be contagious. Playing with a pet can also get you out of your head and you may find yourself smiling and laughing.
• Choose to be around fun and playful people. Some people seem to smile effortlessly; they easily find the humor in life. Spending time with them may help you to laugh and their way of looking at things may start to rub off on you.
• Read fun stuff. Check out Laughter the Best Medicine and other humorous books.
There are definitely times when laughter is not appropriate, but it is also possible that you may be taking yourself too seriously. Most of the time with a little effort you can choose to smile and laugh rather than catastrophize. Taking things too personally and too seriously stresses your body and your mind.
There is incredible power to heal, refresh and renew in laughter. The ability to laugh easily and often will help you as you face challenges. It will strengthen your relationships and support you emotionally and physically.