When was the last time you laughed? Was it borne out of frustration, nervousness, or something from joy? You may have laughed at something today and yesterday, but the real question is: Do you laugh enough? According to the University of Kentucky, children laugh 30 times a day. Adults? They only laugh 17 times a day. If that. Below are the health benefits of laughter and what we can do to bring more laughter into our lives.
Health Benefits Of Laughter
Many studies show the health benefits that laughter provides. Here are some of them:
- Laughter boosts the immune system
- Increases blood flow
- Lowers blood sugar levels in diabetics
- Reduces pain levels
- Laughter is a distraction, which can clear the mind
- Reduces the level of stress and stress hormones in the body.
Laughter and the Immune System
Experts say a decreased immune system response is associated with increased stress. They say laughter could increase the number of cells that produce antibodies.
Laughter and Brain Health
Did you know that reduced blood flow to the brain has been linked to several issues, such as poor memory and cognitive decline?
Increased blood flow from laughter does many things for the heart and brain. Not only does it dilate the blood vessels. It also increases oxygen in your circulation, providing a better ability to think.
Laughter has also been shown to improve mental clarity. With laughter linked to increased blood flow to the brain and increased blood flow to the brain is shown to improve cognition as the brain is getting more oxygen, it is not surprising that laughter can help to improve mental clarity.
Laughter and Blood Sugar Levels
The link between laughter and lowered blood sugar levels in diabetics is interesting. While it may have been a study with a small number of people, it showed a potential tool for everyone (not just diabetics) to control their blood sugar levels while continuing to exercise and decrease their sugar intake.
Laughter and Pain Tolerance
As for a way to regulate pain, there have been a few studies that show that laughter increases pain tolerance due to the release of endorphins. Endorphins are involved in the pleasure centers of the brain. They help maximize the feeling of pleasure from activities such as exercise or playing games. Higher endorphin levels help alleviate depression and reduce stress.
Why We Don’t Laugh As Much
As adults, we often don’t laugh as much as we used to when we were younger. Or, we may be going through a period of our adult life where we aren’t laughing as much. But we haven’t noticed the decrease in laughter and wonder why we aren’t feeling like ourselves.
There are a few reasons we don’t laugh as much, such as:
- Stressed out by events in our personal lives or what is happening in the news
- We see laughing more often as something for children
- Increased depression and anxiety
- Laughter is frowned upon in some public spaces
- It isn’t seen as professional
It’s no secret that 2020 has been a stressful year pretty much right out of the gate, particularly concerning the current pandemic.
We need laughter, especially during stressful times to remain physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. This becomes crucial, particularly if we already struggle with depression and anxiety.
In some public spaces, we receive strange looks if we start laughing. In some cases, people move away as though there is something wrong with us. If you have ever read something funny on a bus or the subway and started chuckling, you may have gotten a few suspicious looks.
In professional settings, play and laughter are important for workplace morale. Yet, it may seem unprofessional to have a few minutes to play around and laugh before you are told to get back to work. Nothing is getting done while you are playing around.
What We Can Do
There are several things we can do to bring more laughter into our lives, such as:
- Making time for fun and play
- Making it normal to laugh every day
- Find humor and change perspectives
Playing is important for adults too. Play also invokes laughter which, in turn, leads to happier and healthier lives. Society tells us that as we become adults, we should stop being silly and focus on bills, work, and family.
In reality, playfulness and laughter are still important for us as they prevent work burnout, improve emotional well-being, and get us engaged in our own lives and relationships.
Instead of stressing out about milk spilling on the floor or dropping things all day, we can change our perspectives and use humor. Mock the milk for thinking the floor was important or have a conversation with gravity using funny voices. While there are far more serious situations, it doesn’t mean we have to stop laughing and let stress ruin our lives and our health.