Did you know that scientific researchers have demonstrated that laughing and maintaining a sense of humor ward off stress, fight illnesses, and promote overall mind and body health. Find simple ways to laugh and relax, and turn to humor when you feel worries and frustrations creeping in.
The Power of Humor
One of the things that makes us human is our ability to enjoy and share humor. Few things in life bring us more pleasure than the simple act of laughter. Taking a lighthearted approach to trouble is one way to reduce stress and cope with difficult situations. Yet we often overlook humor and refuse to take it seriously as a stress-reducing tool.
Humor teaches us to lighten up, take a break from our troubles and see the world in a different light. Humor is also contagious; once you start laughing, others are eager to share in the experience and laugh, too.
Researchers are discovering that humor can have therapeutic benefits that aid the body and the mind. Studies show that laughter can:
- Lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health: Laughing increases the heart rate and improves blood circulation. When you are done laughing, your blood pressure and heart rate go down to levels below those when you began laughing. Research also shows that the physical effects of laughter last for up to two hours after you stop laughing.
- Boost the body’s immune system: Laughter can increase the body’s level of T-cells, which attack virus-infected cells.
- Relax muscles: Laughing works at least five different muscle groups throughout the body and improves muscle tone.
- Help control pain and make you feel good: Your body releases a shower of adrenaline and endorphins when you laugh.
- Decrease hormones that cause stress: These include dopamine and epinephrine.
- Prevent heart attacks: Laughter’s ability to reduce stress, tension and anger can actually safeguard the heart.
- Stimulate the brain: Researchers have discovered that laughter changes brain-wave activity.
- Burn calories: When you laugh regularly and for long stretches, your metabolism and body temperature increase.
- Aid in digestion: Research indicates that laughing can stimulate enzymes that act as natural laxatives.
- Relieve depression: Laughter helps you get your mind off your troubles and helps control physiological factors that may promote depression.
Using Humor to Fight Stress
Try these tips to add laughter to your life and reduce stress:
- Learn to laugh spontaneously: Try to find humor in everyday situations and commonplace scenarios. Let yourself go and laugh, so long as you are not laughing at the expense of another person.
- Laugh out loud: The longer and harder you laugh, the better you will feel. Go for the all-out guffaw whenever possible.
- Take a laughter break at work: If you feel overburdened or tense while on the job, look to find humor in the situation. Take deep breaths, relax, smile and try to think of a funny scenario that could happen. Instead of thinking that someday you will be able to laugh at your troubles, try to laugh at them now.
- Get in touch with your sense of humor: Do not be afraid to express your natural wit in appropriate social situations. Do not try so hard to make yourself or others laugh; let it happen naturally. Cheery, instinctively funny people have magnetic personalities that seem to attract other people.
- Learn to tap into your natural humor triggers: Your favorite topics, images, memories, sounds, smells, programs and comic strips can make you laugh. Revisit these triggers whenever you feel stressed or depressed.
- Turn humor into a routine: Set aside an hour a day to watch your favorite television comedy, read a humorous book or magazine, or joke and share funny stories with family and friends. Start renting more comedy videos instead of dramas, and post humorous cartoons around the office or home more often.
- Live vicariously through your children: Spend as much time as possible engaging in fun activities with your children, nieces or nephews. A child’s laughter can be especially contagious and therapeutic.
- Surround yourself with people who make you laugh and feel happy: A change in your environment and choice of friends can help pick up your spirits and get your mind off your worries.
- Use your imagination: When you feel stressed about speaking in public or performing in some social situation, follow the oft-told advice: Imagine the crowd in their underwear. Before you begin, dream up a ridiculous scenario that can take the edge off. Think back to a humorous event that happened to you or a friend at one time.
- Do not hold back humor: Too often we suppress laughter and fail to take advantage of an immediate stress-relief response encouraged by the body. If you feel the need to laugh, give in to it. Succumb to silliness once in a while, and try not to take yourself too seriously all of the time.
- Humor Research Lab (HuRL): http://humorresearchlab.org
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
So daughters let’s laugh our way to a good life!!!