The Benefits of Laughter: A Smile a Day Can Keep the Doctor Away

Well Being Wednesday, May 22, 2013 Written by

You’ve heard the old adage that “laughter is the best medicine.” Well, whoever said that may have been on to something.

Research into the benefits of laughter, smiling and humor has shown just how important these things are for our health. And it’s not just emotional health. Just laughing at a colleague’s joke or cracking a smile to a passerby on the street can offer tangible physical benefits too. Here are a few that stood out:

  • It increases those feel-good chemicals we like so much: Smiling and laughing naturally increases the level of endorphins and dopamine in the body, which just so happens to help to relieve pain as well.
  • It boosts your immune system: We all know that stress depresses our immune systems. However, we can reverse the effects through smiling – a natural way to relax the body and reduce the impact of stress. Some scientists also believe that laughter can boost the immune system by increasing the number of immune cells and antibodies in your bloodstream.
  • It helps your heart: According to University of Maryland scientists, one of the benefits of laughter is that it allows blood vessels to more easily expand or contract, improving blood flow and reducing stress on the heart.

Making Laughter Work For You

Having a bad day? Taking the time for a good laugh is a great way to reduce negative feelings and emotions. It’s pretty hard not to smile when you’re busy laughing with friends. And speaking of being social, there’s a reason why everyone puts “sense of humor” as the first thing they’re looking for in a partner. That’s one of the benefits of laughter you won’t read in the literature.

So, how do you bring more humor and health into your life? Try avoiding negative situations as best you can. If you’re putting yourself into situations that are taking a toll on your mental and physical well-being, can you take a step back and try to extricate yourself from the situation? And if that’s not possible, is there a way you can bring humor to the situation?

The take-away? Laugh, smile and joke every day. Ultimately, it’s an easy way to feel happier and live better.

We’d love to hear your tried and true tricks for bringing a smile or laugh to awkward or stressful situations. Share it with us in the comments below!

The Greatist-Laughter-Infographic

Infographic on the benefits of laughter, compliments of Greatist.com.

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