A Laughing Matter
What’s So Funny?
Laugh it off… Laugh till you cry… Have the last laugh… A barrel of laughs… Laugh your head off… Side splitting laughter… Laugh and the whole world laughs with you. The list goes on and on. Why are there so many idioms involving laughter? Well, the answer is that laughter is POWERFUL. That’s right! Laughter can affect your physical, mental and emotional well-being. That’s pretty amazing for something that takes little effort and is free to do!
When we laugh, it sends messages to our brain that affect a number of things that are going on in our body. What are those things, you ask? Well, let’s talk about them and be amazed together!
The Best Medicine
The first thing that comes to mind as a benefit of laughter is probably that it puts you in a great mood. Why is that? The act of laughing not only releases endorphins, but it can also lower your levels of cortisol- the stress hormone. You can quite literally “laugh it off” when it comes to stress!
Now for some even cooler things you may not know about laughter. The American Heart Association has found that laughing can actual reduce artery inflammation and increase your HDL- the good cholesterol. Laughing is not just good for the heart and soul, but it’s great for the actual physical organ that is your heart!
Let’s move onto our immune systems. Yep, I said immune systems! Laughter increases the production of antibodies and T-cells that help our bodies fight off infection, thus strengthening our immune system.
Still not convinced that it’s worth adding more belly laughs to your life? Well, how about the fact that laughing increases your oxygen intake? All that deep, belly-laughter induced breathing helps to expel all the stale air and open the tiny air sacs in your lungs to increase oxygen consumption.
Now that you’re thoroughly convinced that you need more laughter in your life (because who can ever have enough?!), let take a look at some ways you can make that happen.
Think back to the last time you laughed until you cried. You grabbed your sides because you thought they were going to burst from all the laughter. You doubled-over trying to tame the belly laughs that were erupting from your core. You no longer had the ability to control your facial expressions, because the laugh took over and your socially acceptable laugh face couldn’t cut it. You lost your ability to speak intelligibly and could only muster up a few high pitched, two-syllable squawks. You were surrounded by other people acting the exact some way and laughed even harder when you caught each other’s eyes, as if seeing a visual representation of your own behavior in someone else made it all the funnier.
Do you have that time in mind? How long ago was it? How often do you have these moments? If you can’t remember the last time you laughed like this, then you may currently be more stressed than necessary!
The good news is, all the benefits that we’ve discussed so far are available to claim for yourself right now! Whether you are a self-proclaimed comedian, or don’t have a funny bone in your body, you can still reap the rewards of a good belly laugh. So here are some interesting facts you should know before embarking on you laughter journey:
- Laughing is easier socially, so grab a partner and watch a comedy special on Netflix, or head out to a comedy show with a group of friends.
- Eye contact can help increase social connection, which adds a relational benefit to your laugh fests.
- Laughing is like yawning- it’s contagious! So just start laughing and someone is bound to join in.
- After 20-30 seconds, your brain can no longer tell the difference between a real laugh and a forced laugh. This point is somewhat debated, but chances are, you will probably end up really laughing at the silly forced-laugh noises that you’re making.
- Use a mirror. If you don’t have someone else around, the reflection of yourself laughing may help your brain to get in the right frame of mind to join in the fun.
Fake it till you make it
Even if we want to laugh more and reap all these benefits, we’re not always in the mood to laugh. But if our brain can’t tell the difference after a while, then what’ve you got to lose? Try some of these ideas to curate and manifest the laugh lifestyle you’re aiming for.
- Start a Pinterest board. This is where you can keep all the memes, stories, photos that make you laugh. Then go back and take a look whenever you need to get a little inspiration to get the laughter rolling.
- Host a game night like Charades or Pictionary. There’s bound to be some good material when you get a room of adults together to blow off some steam with a little friendly competition.
- Laugh yoga classes. If you need some guidance or you just really like taking classes, then this might be for you. You can easily find videos online, or you may even have a local yoga studio that participates.
- Imitate laughs. If there’s a famous line from a movie, or you have a favorite evil villain laugh, then try to imitate it! You don’t have to be an actor, but give a good try and you’re bound to make yourself laugh for real!
If you find something that makes you blurt laugh, or you discover a great new comedian or TV show, please share below and keep the laughter going. Let’s help each other out!