If you have ever shared a deep belly laugh with a friend and instantly felt a little bit better, you probably understand where the saying “laughter is the best medicine” comes from. More than just a pleasurable in-the-moment experience, laughing can be a pathway to greater joy, renewed optimism, and better relationships. It turns out that “laughter is the best medicine” is more than just a sweet saying—there are a whole host of physical and mental benefits associated with having a laugh. In addition to the individual benefits we experience, laughter helps us bond with others. Quality relationships with our friends, loved ones, and caregivers have a profound impact on our mental health, and laughing together can be a way to nurture these relationships and strengthen positive bonds. We can find more connection and delight in all our relationships, both new and old, through humor and play. As we will see, laughter can make all the difference.
Physical benefits of laughter
Finding something that makes you giggle can actually improve your physical well-being, from making your body feel better in the moment to helping you fight infection down the road. Some of the physical benefits of laughter include:
- Laughter relaxes the entire body, helping you to release tension in your muscles and feel calmer.
- Laughter strengthens your immune system, which makes you more resistant to disease. This is achieved through laughter reducing the level of stress hormones in your body, and increasing the release of feel-good hormones like endorphins. It also increases the production of infection-fighting antibodies.
- Laughter lowers your blood pressure, again thanks to less stress hormones and more endorphins.
- Laughter decreases your risk of heart attacks and can help to prevent heart disease. As more oxygenated blood is circulated throughout your body, vascular function improves.
Mental and emotional benefits of laughter
It probably comes as no surprise that laughing regularly can make you a happier and mentally healthier person. Some of the ways laughter improves mental and emotional well-being include:
- Laughter reduces stress and increases energy. After a good laugh, you may report feeling more relaxed and able to focus.
- Laughter activates the release of serotonin, the main hormone that stabilizes our mood and happiness. This is why laughing can help to stop distressing emotions or dull their impact, at least for a little while.
- Laughter puts problems into perspective. When dealing with a challenge, laughter infuses lightness into the situation. It can help you to feel less overwhelmed and better equipped to face obstacles.
How to enjoy more laughter in your life
The benefits of laughter are clear, but some of us may not be getting enough of it. Here are some tips on how to make sure you get your daily dose:
- Smile and laugh, even when it’s not arising organically. Though it may feel a bit odd at first, forcing yourself to smile or laugh can often lead to the real thing. Even when it doesn’t, a forced smile or simulated laugh can provide some of the same benefits as their natural counterparts.
- Connect to your inner child. No matter our age, all of us have a child inside us—the child we once were, full of quirks, curiosity, joy, and humor. Try to embody some childlike qualities, like playfulness and openness, as you navigate this chapter of your life.
- Seek out humorous media. Watch a comedy, read a funny book, or listen to a silly podcast, and you’ll be laughing in no time.
Laughter is best when we get to share it with those in our life. Appreciate your time with others, and try to laugh together. This could be your family and old friends, but if those loved ones aren’t nearby, it could also be your neighbors, caregivers or other confidants. While exploring home health care for you or a loved one is a big decision, one that often comes with serious deliberation and challenging emotions, it doesn’t have to all be ‘heavy’. In the midst of the process, don’t forget to smile, and share a laugh with others, and know that there are skilled, warm care providers eager to share the joyous and wonderful life moments that make us all smile – along with you. Whether you are in need of short-term or long-term care, our providers are committed to bringing you compassion and personalized attention – always with a positive smile. Please give us a call at (561) 559-1555 or email us at wecare@synchronyFL.com to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.