When you’re dealing with a change in your life, try laughing for a change. Even though smiling may be the furthest thing from your mind, it may surprise you to learn that a good joke can do far more than just “tickle your funny bone.” In fact, studies have shown that humor and laughter can improve your physical and mental health and coping abilities. The proven benefits of laughter include stress reduction, pain relief, an enhanced immune system and a healthier outlook on life.
The Benefits of Humor
Laughter is not only fun -- it is also good for you. People with a good sense of humor enjoy many benefits, both physically and emotionally. Specifically, humor can promote health by:
- Reducing Stress. Laughter, like crying, is a form of catharsis. It provides an outlet for relieving feelings of stress and anxiety. Laughter can “clear your head,” helping you look at a situation from a new angle.
- Increasing Oxygenation and Circulation. Studies show that laughter provides many physiological benefits. It causes a temporary increase in your heart rate and blood pressure which aids in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your entire body. Laughter can also help relax tense muscles in your face, shoulders and torso.
- Aiding Your Immune System. Laughter helps the body produce new immune cells faster. A boosted immune system can help you fight off illnesses like colds or the flu.
- Reducing Pain. Several studies have shown that exposing people to humorous experiences significantly increases their ability to deal with pain. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins -- the body’s natural painkillers.
- Improving Quality of Life. Regular, healthy doses of humor and laughter can enrich your life in many ways. Studies have shown that people with a good sense of humor tend to be less stressed, anxious and depressed.
- Encouraging Communication. Because our society places high value on a good sense of humor, laughing can help us better relate to other people. This can increase a person’s sense of community and belonging.
Humor as a Coping Mechanism
It is important to remember that laughter and humor are two powerful coping mechanisms that you have at your disposal at all times. When faced with a difficult situation, laughter can provide a release from intense feelings. Using humor in difficult times can be one of the smartest ways of coping with a tough situation, easing your worries and allowing you to move on with your life. It helps you see the lighter side!
Look for Humor in Your Life
To fully gain the benefits of humor, seek opportunities to add humor to your life. Go see a funny movie. Watch your favorite sitcom. Grab the comics out of the Sunday paper or make funny faces in the mirror with your kids. Remember the funny jokes, sayings and bumper stickers you come across and pass them on to others. Find a funny button, quote or joke that lightens your mood about a situation and put it on your bulletin board, computer at work or on the fridge at home. These are many ways to maximize the value of humor’s healing power in your life.