We all LOL at text messages, posts, tweets, and any number of social media statements and interactions from friends, colleagues, and even total strangers. While the LOL response may be automatic, the idea of laughing out loud at least once a day is not just a fun concept.
Research has shown the link between regular, authentic laughter and a range of different health benefits. Let’s take a deeper dive into how laughing can help us cope in good times as well as in times of stress and challenge.
Stress may seem like a part of life, and it is even more so today. Regular laughter is a natural way to reduce stress by increasing the release of the “feel good” chemicals in the brain. Specifically, laughing releases endorphins, which promote a sense of well-being that offsets the hormonal response to stress.
Laughter is also a natural mechanism to drop the body’s heart and breathing rate, as well as reduce blood pressure. The change in the body from tension and stress to relaxation is linked to reducing the risk of stress-related diseases. In studies, it was found that a deep, long laugh can produce up to forty-five minutes of muscle relaxation and stress relief.
Increased Blood Circulation
In addition to reducing blood pressure and heart rate, the act of laughing increases the blood flow throughout the body. Stimulating blood flow provides the cells with the necessary nutrients and oxygen to repair and regenerate at the cellular level.
Laughter requires the movement of large muscles within the body’s core. Think of the last time you experienced a belly laugh and ended up with sore sides and stomach afterward. The pain is due to the use of muscles deep in the core.
Moving these muscles both stimulates blood flow, while also resulting in muscle relaxation after the laughter ends. This is very beneficial to the body, and further aids in reducing muscle tension.
Immunity Boosting Benefits
Staying healthy is related to laughter, as the action of laughing and releasing hormones into your body helps to boost your immune system. The stress hormone cortisol suppresses the immune response, which can lead to an increased risk of bacterial and viral infections as well as inflammation in the body. Laughing produces the hormones and chemicals that reduce the production of cortisol, allowing the immune system to function more effectively.
Laughter is also a wonderful way to strengthen and build relationships with others. Strong relationship and a network of support is a critical factor in boosting mental health and maintaining a positive and optimistic outlook on life.