Benefits of Laughing Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

Life is full of stressors. You may feel like crying more often than you feel like laughing.
But many experts say that laughing in even the grimmest situations is good for you, both mentally and physically. Laughter releases stress, strengthens the immune system, improves sleep, diffuses tension, reduces pain and boosts “happy chemistry.”

Laughter is the nemesis of tension; you can’t hold on to tension when you laugh.

The Science of Laughter: Nothing to Joke About

Numerous scientific studies suggest that laughter is a powerful form of complementary therapeutic medicine.

Here are a few benefits:

  • Blood flow. Laughter causes the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow. (University of Maryland School of Medicine)
  • Immune response. Humor raises the level of infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells. (Robert Provine, professor of psychology, author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation)
  • Blood pressure. Laughter lowers blood pressure just as much as cutting salt. (Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine)
  • Pain relief. Ten minutes of laughing can allow up to two hours of pain relief. In a study of patients in a rehabilitation center, 74% agreed with the statement, “sometimes, laughter works as well as a pain pill.” (New England Journal of Medicine)
  • Aerobic exercise. One minute of laughter is equal to 10-minutes on the rowing machine. (Dr. William Fry, Stanford University)

Key Things to Remember

Laughing is a wonderful, cathartic process. Just because you laugh doesn’t mean you don’t care. Laughing during even saddest situations helps you deal with emotions, rather than keeping feelings bottled up. Sometimes, faking laughter may lead to tears, but that’s OK, says Sebastien Gendry, CEO of the American School of Laughter Yoga. “You cannot open up a box of emotions selectively. A good laugh may lead to a good cry. Having a good cry feels good, too. If you have unexpressed emotions, laughter will bring them out.”

Life isn’t always funny, particularly when dealing with work stress, family, aging, or illness. Laughter forces you to be at peace with who you are, where you are. No one has a perfect life. “Laughter therapy is about how you react in the face of adversity. Sometimes, you can’t control your circumstances, but you can always control your reaction. How you react is always negotiable,” Gendry says.

Learn to Live with Stress

The reality is, stress is will always be there; you can’t avoid it. But you can choose how you will deal with it. Laughter is a healthy way to cope with life’s ups and downs. You can laugh in the face of adversity.

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