It feels good to laugh. So good, in fact, the health benefits of laughter are always being explored. Whether it’s a humorous movie or situation that does it, feeling a certain kind of joy has a noticeable reward to the body.
Laughing on a regular basis actually lowers anxiety due to physical changes in your body and studies are performed each year to determine why.
Your Feel-Good Hormones
When you laugh, you may notice that you take in deeper breaths. Because laughter enhances the intake of oxygen, it increases your heart rate, causing a release of hormones known as endorphins. These hormones induce feelings of happiness and satisfaction without you even having to do anything. This means if you’re stressed, humor can elicit a feeling that is similar to your state of mind after exercise.
Your Stress Response
A good laugh also works to activate (and then cool down) what the Mayo Clinic refers to as your stress response. Laughter that speeds up your respiratory rate initially stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, which has the same effect as feeling stressed. As your laughter slows down, however, your heart rate slows down with it, and you begin to feel relaxed while your body recovers. Because laughter stimulates circulation and then muscle relaxation, you may even notice a decrease in the physical symptoms of stress. Some people notice less tension and muscle soreness afterward.
Learn more about managing stress.
Your Immune System
Although these responses relieve stress quickly, experiencing humor on a regular basis can curb anxiety in lasting ways as well. Amusing thoughts allow your body to release neuropeptides, which work to fight stress and ultimately boost your immune system. The reasons why they appear aren’t completely understood, but studies have shown people with illnesses like heart disease can actually improve their health despite their condition. In some cases, per the University of Maryland, laughter may actually be the best medicine. Because stress gets in the way of personal care, humor can help keep you healthy.
Make It Funny
Although the health benefits of laughter are significant, there’s no one way to incorporate it into your everyday. Instead, try to find the humor in small aspects of life. When the barista at your local coffee shop gets your name wrong even though you’re there every morning, isn’t that a little funny? It may take time to see the humor in frustrating situations, but adjusting your perspective can desensitize you to even your biggest stressors and significantly improve your attitude toward them.
Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.