why is laughter the best medicine

The world's oldest coping skill for mental health: laughter

You’ve likely heard this saying before: Laughter is the best medicine. 

And, it’s true! Laughter is a powerful tool that can improve your physical and mental health in many ways. From reducing stress hormones to increasing blood flow, the health benefits of humor and laughter are numerous—that’s no joke. 

If you’re wondering how—and why—keep reading. We’ll explore the science behind laughter as medicine and provide practical tips for incorporating more laughter into your daily life.

Understanding laughter as medicine

There’s a good chance you’ve let out a burst of laughter recently. But have you ever stopped to think about what laughter actually is? 

Laughter is a natural human behavior that involves smiling, making sounds, and sometimes even convulsing with joy. It's often associated with humor and absurdities, but laughter can also stem from other sources, such as joy, relief, or nervousness. 

The use of laughter as a therapeutic approach dates back to ancient times when it was believed to have healing properties. Today, many medical professionals recognize the positive effects that laughter can have on your health and well-being. 

That’s where the saying “laughter is the best medicine” comes in. It’s been around for centuries and is still widely recognized as a reminder of the power of laughter. So whether it's through watching a comedy show or spending time with loved ones, finding ways to incorporate more laughter into your life can have a positive impact on your overall well-being.

Why laughter is a vital coping skill for mental health

While it may not be a cure-all solution, laughter has been shown to have numerous benefits for your physical health. In fact, laughter has a profound impact on your body, affecting your brain, immune system, cardiovascular system, and even pain perception.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that are responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness. Endorphins also can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and have a pain-relieving effect, which is why laughter is often referred to as a natural painkiller. 

Want to experience the benefits yourself? Then watch this video: 

What’s more is that laughter has been shown to boost your immune system by increasing the production of antibodies and activating immune cells, such as T-cells and natural killer cells. This can help reduce your risk of illnesses such as colds and flu. 

Plus, when you laugh, you’re also increasing blood flow and improving the function of blood vessels in your cardiovascular system, which is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body. This can help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

Pretty cool, right?

The benefits of laughter

In addition to its physiological benefits, laughter has numerous psychological benefits, including stress reduction, improved mood and well-being, social bonding, and management of depression and anxiety.

Stress is a common problem for many people, but laughter has been shown to be an effective stress reliever. That’s because when you laugh, you reduce the levels of stress hormones in your body, such as cortisol and adrenaline. This can help alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression and promote relaxation.

Laughter has also been shown to improve your mood and overall well-being. As we mentioned before, when you laugh, it triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, which are associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness. This can help improve your mood and reduce feelings of sadness or depression. (We dare you to try laughing without cracking a smile.) 

Plus, laughter can also strengthen social bonds. Laughing with others can create a sense of connection and belonging, as well as promote positive feelings toward others.

Laughter therapy: A closer look

Now that you know about the physical and mental benefits of laughter, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that laughter therapy has gained popularity in recent years because of its effectiveness. So what is laughter therapy, exactly?  

Laughter therapy involves using laughter as a therapeutic tool to improve your health and well-being. It can take many forms, such as laughter yoga, laughter meditation, or simply incorporating more laughter into your daily life.

Case studies have shown that laughter therapy can be effective in reducing stress, managing pain, and improving your mood. For example, a study of cancer patients found that those who participated in laughter therapy experienced reduced levels of anxiety and depression compared to those who did not receive the therapy. Another study found that laughter therapy was effective in reducing pain levels for patients with chronic pain.

As an alternative, laughter yoga is a specific form of laughter therapy that incorporates yogic breathing and meditation techniques. It is based on the principle that intentional laughter can have similar benefits to spontaneous laughter. Laughter yoga sessions typically involve group activities such as laughter exercises and playful games designed to promote laughter and positive emotions. 

Would you take a laughter yoga class? 

Practical ways to incorporate laughter into your daily life

If your preferred form of laughter therapy is finding practical ways to incorporate more laughter into your daily life, you’re in luck. There are many practical ways to incorporate it into your daily life, like: 

  • Using humor in your daily interactions: This can involve telling jokes, sharing funny stories, or using playful language in conversations. By creating a lighthearted and humorous atmosphere, you can encourage laughter and positive emotions.
  • Attend comedy shows, read humorous books, and watch funny movies: These types of media can provide a much-needed break from the stresses of daily life and promote feelings of happiness and joy.
  • Participating in social activities that encourage laughter: This can include spending time with fun, playful people who routinely find humor in everyday situations. You can also seek out laughter yoga clubs or other groups that focus on promoting laughter as a form of exercise and stress relief.

Using apps, like Balance, to boost laughter

In today's technological age, it’s no surprise that we’ve taken laughter digitally. 

There’s a chance you’ve posted a joke of your own on your social media feed or shared a funny meme with a friend like this one:

And speaking more seriously, there are apps out there that can help you learn to embrace more joy and laughter in your life—and one app, in particular, is the guided meditation app Balance, available on iOS or Android

Balance makes learning and experimenting with different meditation exercises easy since it includes a variety of lessons, audio guidance, breathing exercises, and more, all tailored to you and your exact needs. It’s also completely free for your entire first year. 

As one specific example of a tool Balance offers, you can try the guided Joy meditation. It uses Visualization to help you recall a time when you felt truly happy—maybe even keeled over with laughter. And studies show that when you remember an enjoyable experience in detail, your brain releases the same feel-good endorphins it did when you were actually living the moment. 

You can also find a Positivity meditation in Balance to help you look for small ways to spread joy to yourself and others, which can improve your current mood and overall outlook on life.

Get your daily dose of laughter with the Balance app today

Laughter is an essential part of a healthy and fulfilling life—and, indeed, the best medicine. It can help reduce your stress, boost your mood, and promote your overall well-being. However, with the busy and often stressful lives we lead, embracing laughter can be challenging. That's where Balance comes in.

It includes a growing library of research-backed meditations that can help you take the first step toward cultivating more joy and positivity in your life. And don't forget: Balance is completely free for your entire first year. That’s not a joke! 

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and have a good hearty laugh, then download Balance on iOS or Android—your body and mind will thank you for it.

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