Is laughter truly the best medicine? "Best" may not be accurate here, but it can, in fact, do wonders for the body and soul. If you don't already know, laughter is good for your health in so many surprising ways that it's a mystery why we're not laughing all the time.
Even if you can remember the last time you laughed so hard you fell onto the floor, you probably can't tell how it affected your body. Our bodies are incredibly in tune with our psychological and emotional responses. In fact, tons of research has gone into the effects that stress has on our body, and the results are far from reassuring.
Though stress was integral to the survival of our forefathers as an instinctual response to dangerous situations, these days, the lack of life-or-death battles with wild animals and nature's most potent forces means chronic stress itself can be a killer.
A little bit of it can serve to motivate you, but most of us experience symptoms of stress that we don't even recognize. Which brings us back to the benefits of laughter — not only can a good belly laugh be the highlight of your day, it also works as a counter to the stress and dreariness of daily life. Here's how that works.
Laughter can be a remedy to stress.
According to associate professor at California's Loma Linda University, Dr. Lee Berk, who has studied the effects of laughter for some 30 years, laughter is a stress relief. It produces feel-good chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and relieves some of the physical symptoms of stress by stimulating circulation and helping your muscles relax.
Laughing also improves your immune system.
Negativity alters the chemicals in your body in ways that can make you more susceptible to stress — and in turn, weakening your immune system. A positive, carefree outlook (one that involves a lot of keeling over in laughter, obviously) can bolster your immunity and make you less vulnerable to getting sick.
Humor helps you test better.
A study by Johns Hopkins University Medical School showed that being humorous boosts students' memories. Remarkably, researchers also found that the most profound effect of humor in a testing environment in a college classroom was the reduction of anxiety, enabling students to perform better on tests.
Laughter helps stave off depression.
We all experience the blues; some of us more seriously than others. Injecting a little humor in our day every day could go a long way in keeping our spirits up.
Cover image via Max Bukovski / Shutterstock