Snow monkey laughing with text overlay: Laughter Really May Be the Best Medicine

[Wellness] Laughter Really May Be the Best Medicine

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! Have you ever heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine? There may be something to this… According to the Mayo Clinic, “A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.”

Laughter can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

Short-term Benefits

Laughing can make us feel better mentally, but it also causes physical changes in our bodies. It can:

  • Stimulate our organs. When we laugh, we automatically take in more oxygen. This helps to stimulate our lungs, heart and muscles. Laughing can also increase our brain’s release of those feel-good endorphins.
  • Activate and then relieve our stress response. “A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.” (Mayo Clinic)
  • Relieve tension. Because of the increase in oxygen when we’re laughing, our circulation may increase, which can help our muscles relax.

Long-Term Benefits

Laughter can also have long-term benefits. It has the potential to:

  • Improve our immune system function. Humor can increase the production of antibodies. The positive thoughts associated with laughter can also “release neuropeptides that help fight stress.” (Mayo Clinic)
  • Reduce pain. Laughter can also increase the production of endorphins, which act as the body’s natural pain killers.
  • Make us happier with our lives. Humor can help us get through tough events/situations, and it can act as a bridge to help us connect with others.
  • Improve our moods. Because it can increase the production of dopamine, laughter can help lessen the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Improve short-term memory in older adults. A study conducted at Loma Linda University tested whether humor could improve the short-term memory of older adults. Check out these results:

Learning ability improved by 38.5% and 24.0% in the humor and control groups, respectively (P = .014). Delayed recall improved by 43.6% and 20.3% in the humor and control groups, respectively (P =.029). Within the humor group, delayed recall (43.6%) was significant compared with learning ability (38.5%) (P = .002).

The conclusion was that “humor can have clinical benefits and rehabilitative implications and can be implemented in programs that support whole-person wellness for older adults.(PubMed)

With all these benefits, who wouldn’t want to laugh? I’ve often said that besides my faith, my sense of humor is what gets me through the day-to-day of life with fibromyalgia. When we can find the humor in everyday life, we can contribute to our sense of wellbeing and perhaps even improve our overall wellness.

Adding Humor to Our Lives

There are many ways we can add a little levity to our days. On those days when we’re feeling less-than-cheerful, we may have to look a little harder for the humor in things, but if we try, we can usually find something to laugh at. Here are some ways to add a little humor:

  • Watch a funny movie. Of course, each person will have their own idea of what’s funny.
  • Spend time with people who make you laugh. Make it a priority to spend time with those people who share your sense of humor.
  • Look at what’s ‘different’ in a situation. As an example, those memes of dogs wearing shirts and using human hands or the goats who are running around and suddenly fall over stiff-legged….
  • Check out websites that share humorous items. One example that I thought of right away was my friend Caz at Invisibly Me. She shares a monthly “funnies” post. You can check out her January post here.
  • Find things that make you chuckle – photos, cards, etc. and keep them where you can see them. That way, when you’re having a bad day, you can look at them and hopefully lift your spirits.

Having a sense of humor and making laughter a normal part of our lives can help us in so many ways. Not only can humor improve our outlook on life, it can help improve our physical health. Laughter really may be the best medicine!

Do you find humor in everyday life? What makes you laugh most? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-neurobiology-wellness/201901/humor-is-beneficial-except-when-it-isn-t

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24682001

Horse laughing with text overlay: Laughter Really May Be the Best Medicine
Horse laughing with text overlay: Laughter Really May Be the Best Medicine

22 comments

  1. Hey Honey – so THAT’S why you are always making me laugh . . . you’re secretly working on my short-term memory ;0) ~ I’m sorry it’s not more effective on me than it should be, but blessed beyond measure that you never stop trying! I do think you forgot one thing laughter does for us though, at least it does for me with you: every giggle we share between us, every belly-role we give one another, every “ROFLOL” we cause the other to have etches a memory onto my heart and widens my love for you that hasn’t yet found it’s circumference ~ who can’t use more of that!

    1. Uh oh, you caught me! 😂 Seriously, though, it’s true that as we’ve shared laugh after laugh over the years, our love has grown both deeper and wider. Thanks for always giving me something to laugh about, regardless of what we were going through. I love you Baby!

  2. I love this post because laughter has played a huge role in my chronic life. Living with chronic pain takes so much out of us. Looking for humor or finding things to laugh about in regards to my chronic life helps keep me from becoming bitter and helps balance my perspective.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Cynthia! I’m glad humor has played such a huge role for you. Being able to laugh is such a gift. As you said, it can help us avoid “becoming bitter” and can help “balance [our] perspective.” Hugs!

  3. There are some days that would make me bitter if I didn’t look for the humor in them. I didn’t realize the great benefits of laughing, though. Thank you for sharing those!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Michelle! Having a sense of humor really can keep us from becoming bitter, can’t it? Learning about how it affects our brains helped me understand why….. Blessings to you sweet friend!

  4. Such a timely post Terri, With all the stress that’s been going on in my life, I need to take the time to have some fun and laugh to help change the mindset I’m in.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’re experiencing so much stress right now Mark. I hope it lets up soon. In the meantime, I hope you can find some things that make you laugh and feel a little lighter. Blessings to you!

  5. Absolutely, I think laughter can be a great medicine – while it may not replace our over the counter and prescription meds any time soon, it can still make a little difference each day, and it adds up. It’s sad when you can laugh and it hurts your muscles as you think “I can’t remember the last time I actually laughed”.

    I tend to say “if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry” and I think that can be true for many of us, too. Our situations and health can be very serious, depressing, worrying and disheartening. Sometimes symptoms or things we do may feel embarrassing. I’ve found this with having a stoma, which is why I try to make jokes about it because it lightens things, makes them seem less embarrassing or less serious and awful. It may be a brief respite but it can help change your perspective when you see the lighter side.

    A little more lightness could go a long way and, as you say, it’s not just mental but physical health it can affect. I love your suggestions for finding and adding a little more humour and laughter to our lives (and thank you very much for the kind shout out for my funnies posts!)  ♥

    Caz xxxx

    1. Thanks for sharing Caz! I agree with you that it won’t replace our medications anytime soon, but I think it’s a great complementary “medicine.” You make such a great point about being able to laugh a little at ourselves making things seem “less embarrassing or less serious and awful.” I do that a lot with my Fibro Fog — when I can’t find that word, or think straight, I often keep from becoming too embarrassed by laughing about it. Being able to find humor in the our situations or the world around us can help us to have a better outlook. Of course I had to mention your Funnies posts – I always enjoy them so much! Hugs!

  6. Laughter is essential to feel good. I couldn’t cope without my giggles. When the pain clinic asked me if I was always this upbeat I said you should always try and find the funny side of things it works wonders for pain.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Bar! Laughter really does make a huge difference, doesn’t it? Keeping a sense of humor can help so much, and I really do think it makes a difference in how we respond to the difficult times in our lives. Sending hugs!

  7. Terri, this is such a wonderful post! 🤗 I loved reading just how therapeutic laughter is and the effects it has on our bodies. What a blessing God created it to be! He knew what He was doing, didn’t He? “He who sits in the Heavens laughs…” (Psa 2:4)

    I love Caz’s funnies too. She shares some great ones! Every little thing we do to invite a bit more lightheartedness into our lives adds up for a big blessing.

    Thank you for sharing this! You’re a wonderful blessing too! 💞

    1. Oh goodness, Wendi, I don’t know if I could name a favorite…. We have what my husband calls “the collection” – a bunch of ridiculous movies that always make us laugh and that we’ve watched over and over through the years. Some of the ones that come to mind are Rocket Man (by Disney, not the one that’s about Elton John), Rat Race, See Spot Run, and My Cousin Vinny. As I said, they’re ridiculous, and My Cousin Vinny has some colorful language, but they always make us laugh. Blessings to you, sweet friend!

  8. I’m a firm believer in the benefits of keeping humor in our lives. Best blog post, Terri! I see you mentioned the move My Cousin Vinny in one of your comments. One of my favorite movies!

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