If you have been experiencing
a lot of stress lately, research suggests that laughter really might be the best medicine. Studies show that laughter can boost your immune system, quicken the healing process when ill, lower your blood pressure, and even trigger a boost of feel good chemicals —including endorphins and serotonin— that will improve your optimism and self-confidence. But, perhaps the best documented benefit of laughter is its ability to combat stress.
Laughter helps you to feel more relaxed by firing up and then cooling down your stress response, helping you to feel calmer. When you laugh, your facial and body muscles get a good stretch, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, and your breath quickens—improving your blood oxygen levels. Post-laughter these physiological changes that occur when you laugh can help to lower your blood pressure and sooth tension in muscles, effectively combating the physical symptoms of stress. The next time you are feeling stressed, try a hearty chuckle— even a fake laugh or the anticipation of laughter activates your sympathetic nervous system and acts as the natural antidote to stress.
A 2008 study published by the American Psychological Association found that even anticipating laughter was protective against stress. The stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and DOPAC were reduced by 39 percent, 70 percent, and 38 percent, respectively when subjects anticipated laughter. Laughter has been found to have a 24-hour effect on your health— a terrific reason to find something to laugh about every day.
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