Laughing is a natural part of life. As infants, we started smiling within our first few weeks and were laughing out loud within just months. Unfortunately, as we get older and life gets more serious, the ability to laugh can sometimes be diminished. Fortunately, you can learn to laugh again regardless of age.
How does laughing help? In addition to adding joy to your life laughter can:
- Ease anxiety and reduce tension. Laughter has been shown to be an important stress reducer.
- A good, strong laugh can even help relieve physical tension, leaving muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.
- Experts say laughing releases endorphins, the body's "feel good" chemicals.
- Laughter also decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells, improving your body's resistance to disease.
- One study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor tended to outlive those who didn't laugh as much.
You can increase your laughter quota by searching out things that make you happy. Maybe it's playing with a small child or a family pet. Maybe it's taking the time to find a funny movie, TV show or a video on YouTube. Try reading a humorous book, or sharing a good joke or funny story with others. Read the comics, watch a comedian on TV, or have a night out at your local comedy club. Yes, life can be serious and we can't always be laughing, but putting a little extra effort into trying to find the funny in your life can leave you feeling happier while providing real benefits to your physical health and mental well-being.
Adapted from The American Counseling Association’s Counseling Corner Blog.