You know it feels so good to have a long and intense belly laugh but what is really happening in your body when you laugh?
There are both physical and emotional effects on the body and mind when we laugh. You may have even heard of laughter therapy which encourages forced laughter and also uses humour to reduce feelings of stress and depression.
Scientific research on the effects of laughter indicate that laughter from tickling even forced laughter has a lasting benefit on the body. So whether you’re laughing with someone or just releasing some pent up emotion, the act of laughing will help you to feel better.
Some Short and long term health benefits of laughter:
- Enhances cardiovascular function by improving blood-flow through our vasculature system.
- Strengthens immune and endocrine systems by lowering levels of the stress hormones in our body such as cortisol and adrenaline. Ongoing low levels of stress can cause cortisol levels to remain in the system for extended periods, laughter can help reduce stress and cortisol levels.
- Laughing together with someone else is more rewarding that laughing at them and it promotes a feeling of togetherness. Laughter occurs in many animals too. It is understood that laughter helps to strengthens social bonds between humans and animals alike.
- Massages and exercises the muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm. Like a very gentle workout.
- Feels like a physical release similar to crying or screaming but makes you feel good
- Feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine are released both during laughter and smiling. The brain will respond by providing you with happiness hormones even if you force yourself to smile. Amazing!
- Improves your sense of humour and outlook on difficult situations.
There are many physical and mental benefits of laughter and science is revealing more and more of them as we incorporate MRI and other technology in our research worldwide.
Thank you so much for reading. Stay happy and keep smiling.