Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is the strongest and most effective way of instantly making you or someone else feel better. Although not many people recognise the many mental, social, and physical benefits, that are all brought on by laughing.

Using humour daily can really make each day a bit better. Adults are usually so caught up in the seriousness of life and obligations that they don’t even realise they laugh less.

On the other hand, children laugh more due to their carefree nature and their emphasis on fun and play.

A study referenced in Very Well Mind, shared that children laugh up to 400 times a day, while adults only laugh 15 times a day.

Sometimes we need to encourage ourselves to sit back and have a laugh. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

Brain with happy chemicals: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins.
Loretta Breuning, PhD, the author of “Habits of a Happy Brain” and ”The Science of Positivity”, an illustration from her book.

Before we look into different ways laughter improves our mental, social and physical health we need to take a deeper look into our brain.

Neurology is the study of the nervous system, and this includes the brain. When we laugh and are happy the brain releases specific chemicals that make us feel this way. These chemicals are called endorphins.

Laughter has also been proven to reduce the effect of stress hormones and release antibodies that strengthen our immune system!

Benefits of Laughter on Mental and Physical Health

 So, how does laughter benefit our health?

Now that we know about the chemical responses that happen in our brain with the release of endorphins (happy hormone) and the reduction of stress hormones, we can see the ways laughter improves different areas of our health.

Man laughing on the phone looking at his laptop
Mental Health Benefits:
  • Improves your mood
  • Increases your confidence
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Strengthens resilience
  • Reduces negative emotions
Physical Benefits:
  • Strong immune system
  • Protects the heart
  • Decreases pain and discomfort
  • Relaxes muscles

Not many people would consider the way laughter can also encourage a change of perspective. This can lead to a more resilient and optimistic outlook on difficult situations and will enable you to remain positive during a period of change, disappointment, or loss.

Laughter and Relationships

Laughter plays a huge part in our relationships with others. It’s how we connect, make friends and feel comfortable around other people.

Laughter is a tool that, as we know, increases different responses in our brain and one of those is emotional engagement. Emotional engagement is something that happens when emotions are subconsciously processed. This happens a lot in social gatherings and is good for your mental and emotional health.

Three friends laughing while taking a selfie

Sharing a laugh with the people around you further encourages social bonding and due to the way laughter reduces stress; it has a calming and pleasurable effect. This allows you to connect deeper and more emotionally with the people around you.

Many people also don’t consider the way laughter can help with conflict and tension.

Have you ever been arguing with a close friend or sibling, and then one look at them leaves you laughing so hard that you forget why you were arguing in the first place?

The action of laughing and the positive mental reinforcement further encourages you to forget resentments, judgements and anger. Instead, it encourages you to reduce defences and bond with another person. Implementing laughter within a conflict, relieves tension, stress and anger and allows for a more proactive and problem-solving conversation.

Laughter and your Environment

Being surrounded by laughter and an environment you feel comfortable being yourself in can be the key to better mental health. Laughter promotes the environment around you to be optimistic, hopeful and comfortable.

When you feel better mentally and physically you are also able to focus better and become more productive.

So next time you are feeling down, try and have a laugh! Call a friend, watch a show or find a funny social media video.

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