When did you last have a proper giggle? Or a hearty belly laugh? Chances are you chuckled at a funny photo or a video at some point today… We enjoy laughing so much that a lot of the time we spend on various social media channels is spent on sharing funny content. But did you know that laughing doesn’t only feel good in the moment, but can actually have many long-lasting benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing alike?
Learn more about the many ways laughing is great for you and how to consciously cultivate laughter in your life.
The benefits of laughter
You’ve heard the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’, but how much can it really do for us? A lot, it turns out!
Stressed out? Having a giggle (and even just anticipating one) has been shown to lower the amount of stress hormones circulating in our bodies. Anxiety and tension can similarly melt away after a good guffaw, while moments of mirth may also boost our brain function and ability to perform mentally demanding tasks.
In addition to improving one’s mood, laughing also has the power to reduce interpersonal conflicts and enhance our relationships: couples who laugh a lot together are likely to form the most satisfying and long-lasting partnerships.
Pain is no laughing matter, but if you can find the humorous side of things while in you’re in pain, laughing can actually cause a release of natural painkillers in the body as well as easing muscular tension. Laughing – especially deep belly laughs – is also a mini-workout and can boost circulation and lower blood pressure, reducing our risk of heart disease. Finally, chuckling away can also help us avoid getting sick by giving our immune system a boost.
How to laugh more
Who wouldn’t like to laugh more? Life can get tough though, and we certainly don’t laugh as readily when we’re feeling low or stressed out. Yet, we may get the greatest benefit from laughing in the most challenging times, if we can find a way to have a giggle more often.
Turn to the (laughing) professionals
If laughs have been in short supply recently, inject some more comedy into your day: watch a sitcom or a stand-up show, pick up a funny book to read or tune into a comedy podcast… Make a note of who (or what) makes you laugh the hardest – it will be a brilliant resource to turn to whenever you need an uplifting laughter boost.
Try laughter yoga
When life is particularly challenging or difficult, nothing seems particularly funny, and we may feel that we have no choice but to miss out on the wellness-boosting powers of laughter until we feel better. But we may actually get the same benefits from laughing whether it’s genuine or faked.
Laughter yoga is based on the belief that we can harness the power of laughter even when we’re feeling low. Better still, a lot of people who go to a laughter yoga class find that as the session progresses, their laughter actually becomes genuine and before they know it they’re laughing their heads off. Laughter yoga is most effective in company, but if you’d like to give it a go right now (or to see what it’s like), check out this online laughter yoga session with Bianca Spears (video here)1