World Laughter Day is celebrated every year worldwide to raise awareness about laughter and its many healing benefits. Established in 1998 by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement, it was inspired by the facial feedback hypothesis, which shows that a person's facial expressions can affect their emotions.
The study of laughter is called gelotology and examines the physiological and psychological effects of humour. As we approach World Laughter Day, let's take a look at the many psychological and physiological healing powers of laughter.
Physiological healing benefits of laughter:
Produces a general sense of well-being: One of the main benefits associated with laughter is that it makes you feel better overall. If you laugh a lot, you are more likely to be a positive person, and this can impact your life in many different ways.
Boosts the immune system: Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. A study showed that laughter can also boost T-cells, specialised cells in your immune system that help fight off sickness.
Improves cardiac health: For individuals unable to engage in physical activity due to illness or injury, laughter can provide an effective cardiovascular workout.
Laughing stimulates the heart and can burn calories comparable to a leisurely walk. While the cardiovascular benefits of laughter are measurable, they may be temporary. A study of 10 healthy subjects showed that cardiac parasympathetic activity decreased immediately on watching a comedy video, and just as quickly returned to baseline when finished.
Tones abs: One of the advantages associated with laughter is that it can tone your abs. The muscles in your tummy begin expanding and contracting when you're laughing. This is similar to when you exercise your abs intentionally. At the same time, the muscles that are not in use when you are laughing will get the chance to relax.
Lowers your blood pressure: This can reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. A study of blood pressure involving 16 normotensive subjects found that laughing during a blood pressure measurement increased systolic blood pressure by an average of 12 points. This research suggests that the body responds physiologically to a bout of laughter as it does to a bout of exercise.
Improves blood vessel function: and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Research has shown that laughter has an anti-inflammatory effect that protects blood vessels and heart muscles from the damaging effects of cardiovascular disease. How this happens isn't entirely understood, but it seems related to lessening the body's stress response, which is directly linked to increased inflammation. Regular, hearty laughter should probably be part of every heart disease prevention program.
Burns calories: One study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year. Laughter increases heart and respiratory rates as well as oxygen consumption over a short period. After these initial changes, a person moves into a state of relaxation. While these effects may not be the equivalent to aerobic exercise, as some claim, that is not to say it is entirely without benefit as a physical activity. 10-15 minutes of laughter per day may burn 10-40 extra calories.
Reduces pain: A study conducted in 2011 showed that those who laughed more lasted longer when a freezing object was placed on their arm. The most famous case however was Norman Cousins, who in 1964 was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative disease causing the breakdown of collagen. This cause constant pain and he was given only months to live.Cousins prescribed himself humour as a remedy and survived for 25 years, this has been documented in a book he authored.
Mental Health Benefits
Triggers feel good endorphins : Endorphins are the natural painkillers within your body. They are released when you laugh. This can help you to feel good all over while easing chronic pain at the same time. One of the most recent studies on laughter shows that laughing with others releases endorphins in the brain—our homegrown feel-good chemicals—via opioid receptors.
Reduce stress hormone levels: Aside from this, a reduction in your level of stress hormones is another benefit! This helps to cut the stress and anxiety that impacts your body. Moreover, the reduction of stress hormones can cause a
higher immune system performance. a study of threat-induced anxiety involving 53 subjects found that those exposed to a humorous tape recording consistently rated themselves as less anxious and reported smaller increases in stress as the time to receive an electric shock approached.
Relaxes the body : Lowers blood pressure relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
Helps Better relationships: A long-running study of couples at the University of California, Berkeley, of more than 150 long-term relationships that started in 1989 has suggested that laughter is the glue that keeps people together. Satisfied couples laugh more than unsatisfied ones, found the study team, led by Robert Levenson, professor of psychology. In one experiment, the couples were asked to discuss a problem or conflict in their relationship while they were videotaped, and a polygraph measured different physiological and emotional signs. Laughter during the stressful conversation was associated with emotions becoming more positive.
Eases distressing emotions: Laughter counteracts feelings of anxiety and sadness. Moreover, it helps us release other intense emotions, such as grief. A 2011 study examined a group of people’s reactions to funhouse mirror images of themselves. The findings revealed that those who laughed most frequently at images of themselves also showed fewer signs of negative emotion
Decreases anger: Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment. When we’re in a difficult situation or in a disagreement with another person, seeing the humour in it can help. Specifically, laughter defuses anger, conflict, and self-blame.
May even help you to live longer: A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humour outlived those who don't laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer. A 15-year Norwegian study published in April of 2016 found that women with strong senses of humour lived longer than others. In fact, they were 73% less likely to die from heart disease and 83% less likely to die from infection. Men with a better sense of humour seemed to be more protected from infection only, with 74% less risk of death associated with high scores in humour.
To conclude, humour is a great tonic for both physical and mental wellbeing. As Lord Byron said “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.” And as Hippocrates said, " Let food be your medicine". Try one of our superfood juices to add natural goodness to your diet, to order visit our shop here today.