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November 16, 2019

The Science of Laughter: How it Transforms our Relationships & Boosts our Immune System.

We have often heard the phrase that laughter is the best medicine.

Have you ever wondered how true that is?

The Science Behind It

Laughter is both natural and healthy. Ten minutes on a rowing machine, or 15 minutes on an exercise bike, is about 100 times the benefit of laughter, according to studies. Laughter is an unconscious reaction produced by the compression of air in the lungs at a percussive pace. The lungs and brain take part in its formation.

The left side of the brain analyses a joke’s words and structure, while the right tries to understand the humor. The frontal lobe and occipital lobe become active as the former deals with social or emotional reactions, and the latter is the sensory processing area. When you laugh, there is an increase in cells that fight off tumors and viruses. The instantaneous action shuts off the flow of stress hormones.

While biology is what creates the percussive repetition of a laugh, sociology explains why we do it. Researchers believe that laughter is a form of communication that shows trust in your peers. Part of laughter’s goal is to create and strengthen human connections though understanding and accepting comments, as well as diffusing awkward situations.

The research observed that when other people are around, humans are 30 times more likely to laugh. The study showed how laughing is more contagious with people we know. This verified the theory that laughter is more about bonding than humor.

Short-Term Benefits

Earlier, we mentioned how laughter is healthy. The following are the short-term side effects we get from laughing with our family and friends.

>> Release endorphins, chemicals in the brain that makes us feel better
>> Stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles by increasing blood flow
>> Relieves stress response by increasing then decreasing heart rate and blood pressure
>> Soothes tension by aiding muscle relaxation
>> Reduces perceived pain levels

Long-Term Benefits

Long-term effects have also surfaced with the continuing benefits of laughter in the short term. With laughter, you can see:

>> Improvements in the immune system with the release of neuropeptides
>> Improvement in your mood
>> Ease in dealing with difficult situations
>> Increase in resiliency
>> Social bonds formed by creating a sense of empathy and safety
>> Better relationships with others

Integrating Laughter in Daily Life

With all the side effects laughter produces, you should think about how you can integrate it more into your life.

Having fun is subjective, so this part depends on you. Remember that good fun can be anything you enjoy as long as it is not done at the expense of others or their human rights. Maybe every morning after checking your phone for the time and messages, look for a joke that humors you. You can also elevate the fun by planning an activity with your family and friends every week or every month.

Try creating new rituals that don’t have to be grand gestures.

Curiosity with a smile. When you ask questions, try doing it while wearing a smile.

Rainbow collection. Actively search for rainbows out in nature or as designs of apparel and furniture.

Take a vacation. While this is obvious, we often forget to take one.

Bubblympics. Have the biggest or farthest bubble blowing contest.

Doodle and color. Grab a sketchbook, or a coloring book, and let your heart go wild.

Daily heart-to-hearts. Forget small talk and try to reach out to an acquaintance daily, how long is entirely up to you.

Secret good samaritan. Play secret Santa and good Samaritan by helping other people out without their knowledge.

Water sponge fight. Stick old sponges together, dip them into water, and have a water fight. Bring in the water guns for extra fun.

Watch. This might be already a norm for some, but try watching light movies or videos that make you laugh.

Sing, dance, act. Whatever talent you may have, give a 110 percent in whatever song, dance, or sketch you want to do for an hour.

Animal lover. Talk and play with your pets. Tell them about your day and assume their replies.

Laughter yoga. It is a form of therapy that integrates laughing with yoga. Yoga is a discipline that focuses on meditation and breathing. Here are five Laughter Yoga exercises you can try at home:

I don’t know why I’m laughing. The laugh that photographers ask when you take group shots, that’s pretty much it. Shrug your shoulders, look at each other lost, and laugh out loud.

Favorite animal laugh. Pretend to be your pet when it sees you after a long day. Laugh and act the same way.

Hearty laughter. Spread your arms up, look up, and laugh as if your heart is sending signals to the sky.

Conductor laughter. Pretend you are directing a symphony of your favorite song but replace the instruments with sounds of laughter. Don’t forget to exaggerate the waving of your hands.

Imitation Laughter. Impersonate a celebrity or any person you know, even a baby, and laugh your heart out with the results.

Laughter is the medicine that when you take it, others can also heal. It is best to laugh in the presence of others anyway, so why not share the fun? Also, when you release endorphins, another person near you can easily catch it. So, share those endorphins. The more the merrier, right?

These are a few of the many possible activities that you can do for yourself.

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Lyidi Read Bio

author: Lyidi

Image: Callum Shaw/Unsplash

Editor: Michelle Gean