Comic Relief: The Healing Power of Laughter
What’s the one prescription I am always happy to dispense? Take two belly laughs and call me in the morning. Safer than any big pharma pill-of-the-moment and free of harmful side effects, laughter is one of the easiest things you can do to promote healing and well being. In fact, in my 20 years of medical experience, I’ve found that patients who have a sense of humor and laugh a lot, tend to heal better and faster than those who don’t. Therefore I say, if health and wellness is your goal, skip irony, bypass sarcasm and make the conscious choice to add more joyous laughter into to your day.
Here are 10 simple health-enhancing reasons to have a daily laugh – and in my next post, I’ll show you 7 simple ways to get more of them:
1. Laughter helps boost your immune system by increasing T cell activity, those “killer cells” that help our bodies fight viruses and tumors.
2. Laughter helps lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, decreases pain and can also help stabilize blood sugar.
3. Laugher stimulates chemical changes in the brain that help buffer our bodies against the cumulative effects of stress.
4. Laughter burns a few extra calories: according to a recent university study, just 10 -15 minutes worth of chuckles throughout the day can burn up to 40 calories.
5. Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins, the mood-elevating brain chemicals behind the “runner’s high.”
6. Laughter helps reduce inflammation throughout the body – good news for your heart, brain and circulatory health.
7. Laughter “massages” internal organs – which is why it’s sometimes referred to as “internal jogging” – with effects similar to exercise.
8. Laughter provides a light workout for the heart, lungs, diaphragm and even the abdominal muscles.
9. Laughter releases tension in the muscles of the face, neck, shoulders and abdomen – all common areas where we tent to hold lots of tension
10. Laughter is physically and mentally therapeutic – an involuntary response, that positively alters mood instantly – what could be better?
And in the words of 19th century humorist Mark Twain, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” A wise man indeed!