Is laughter really the best medicine?
You know that euphoric feeling after you’ve had a deep belly laugh? It turns out that feeling is the release of endorphins that can help combat anxiety and depression by altering our dopamine and serotonin activity. Laughter helps us to relieve stress by decreasing our serum levels of cortisol and epinephrine. Humor also impacts us physically. Laughing first increases and then decreases our heart rate and blood pressure, causing our body and mind to relax.
Laughter can benefit us in all kinds of ways. Laughing has been shown to:
- Increase our intake of oxygen
- Stimulate heart, lungs, and muscles
- Soothe tension
- Stimulate blood circulation
- Aid in muscle relaxation
- Improve immune system long term
- Relieve pain by releasing natural painkillers
- Improve overall mood
Laughter can also help us to cope with difficult situations and find connection with others. Another great benefit to laughter therapy is that it’s non-invasive, and you don’t need a prescription!
Some ways to start your laughter therapy
- Watch a comedy movie or television show
- Watch funny videos on YouTube
- Listen to funny podcasts- Browsing the comedy genre in your podcast app of choice is a great way to find regular, weekly episodes to make you chuckle.
- Laugh with friends by reminiscing about funny times
- Engage in laughter yoga in person or on YouTube
- Check out a local comedy club for some live standup- Wiseguys Comedy Club has locations in downtown SLC, Jordan Landing, as well as Ogden. Events include professional comics as well as open mic nights.
- Read the Sunday Funnies comics in the newspaper
- Browse the comedy section of the bookstore
- Play games with the people you enjoy being with
- Participate in the things you are amused by
Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. (2021, July 29). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456
Medicine, N. (n.d.). Healing Through Humor. Northwestern Medicine. https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/emotional-health/healing-through-humor
Yim, J. (2016). Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 239(3), 243–249. https://doi.org/10.1620/tjem.239.243
Written by Blakely May, ACMHC intern