One thing that I love doing with family, especially with my sister, is laughing. I mean- belly clenching, tears rolling, sides hurting- laughter. She and I can just giggle and giggle for hours. In fact, we used to get in trouble for it when we were supposed to be in bed!
Laughter really is some of the best medicine. I think at times we are just too serious of a culture. And especially as busy professionals- we are running, constantly going, attending meetings, creating reports, dealing with clients and customers you name it. We perform task after task. We have so much on our to-do list to check off. Sometimes the rush and run of the day just leaves us exhausted. It leaves us stressed. It leaves us with frowns, grimaces, tension, or pain. What better way to feel better than to have a good laugh?
Starting with some of the physical benefits, laughter relaxes the entire body. A good, vigorous laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. It decreases stress hormones and increases infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your immune system. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
It improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which of course protects the heart. Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After viewing the films, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally — expanding and contracting easily. The blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.
Laughter can be a great release and a way to recharge. By laughing you can dissolve difficult emotions. Most times you won’t feel worried, angry, or depressed while you’re laughing. It helps you relax by reducing stress and increasing energy. What a great way to stay focused and enhance productivity?
So why not allow yourself to let go and release with some really heart-felt laughter? You might try just smiling more. There really is some truth to the phrase “Fake it till you make it”. Or try out a Laughter Yoga Club. Attend a comedy. Surround yourself with playful, joyful people. And for goodness sakes, try not to be too hard on yourself.
The best way to allow yourself to laugh-is to laugh at you!
What are some ways you can take yourself less seriously? Are there any places and spaces you have tried to laugh more? What has been your experience with laughter and it being good for your health?