Laughter as Medicine

Ever since we were little, we would be told quirky limericks meant to encourage good health and healthy habits. For instance, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But what if those sayings had some serious truth to them? Well, in the case of “Laughter is the Best Medicine,” the science is there to back it up. In regards to both physical and mental health, laughter is considered to be an exceptional aid in reducing discomfort and or pain. Already known to reduce blood sugar levels, and increase glucose tolerance in diabetics, resent findings have discovered that laughter actually helps blood vessels function more efficiently, and can help to regulate blood flow- which can play a major role in terms of cardiovascular disease. In a study completed on the subject, 19 diabetic participants entered an experiment in which they ate a meal, and then watched a dull lecture an had their blood sugar levels tested. The next day, they ate the same exact meal and then watched a comedy. After the study was completed, it was proven that the blood sugar levels of the participants were lower after having watched the comedy, than they were after watching a dull lecture. That goes to show the huge and inspiring impact a little laughter and joy can bring!

Along with the incredible cardiovascular benefits that go along with a good chuckle, laughter has the unique ability to naturally help combat stress and anxiety. The physical act of laughter has been shown to cool down your body’s natural stress response, which therefore can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a feel-good and relaxed sensation. It has been reported that the human brain is actually wired to produce “feel-good” chemicals as a reaction to laughter or smiles. For example, when we grin, our brains release the chemical dopamine—which is the main ingredient in happiness. Even if there is nothing to laugh or smile at, the mere act of putting a grin on our faces and going through the motions of laughter causes our brains to release dopamine and make us feel happy. So even if you aren’t in the mood to laugh, the phrase “fake it till you make it” can make a huge difference in regards to dopamine secretion.

 

Life can get real overwhelming real quick. And while sometimes it may feel as if the world is crashing down around us, it’s important to remember to take the time for yourself that you need. Whether a stressful day at work has you feeling down in the dumps, or you’ve just been feeling sluggish and blue, eco18 encourages you to look on the brighter side of life and to embrace the good things you have going for you. So climb in bed and watch a rom-com, or have a night out with your funniest friends. No matter what way you choose to unwind, just remember that a good chuckle can make a world of a difference.

Lieve Falck-Pedersen