• Dr. Liz Homan

Laughter!

Updated: Feb 15

Well Valentine's Day is just a few days away and that makes us all think about love, relationships and being together.

There are so many benefits of being in love and having healthy relationships (romantically or friendly) and to me, one of the biggest is the ability to laugh together…


Laughter has been said to be the best medicine- an antidote to stress and a cure for the blues.


We all know that laughter can be a quite little giggle a throaty chuckle or one of those loud laughs that everyone is turning to see what is so funny. And we all know how to laugh!

We often think that the best way to get someone to laugh is to tell a funny joke, but in reality the best way to cause laughter is to interact with others. On average there will be about 6 bouts of laughter in a typical 10 minute conversation and we are 30% more likely to laugh if there is laughter nearby. What often causes laughter is when our brain is expecting one thing but then experiences another thing. The surprise is what is humorous to our brain.


Beyond improving your mood, an immediate effect of laughter, it has also been shown to make some physiological changes in our body as well. Laughter results in your face and body muscles stretching, your blood pressure to increase, your pulse to quicken, respiration increases sending more oxygen to the body’s tissues. Above and beyond these things some possible coincidental benefits may result from laughter, which include:


· Improve immune system- the thoughts that we have become our reality so if they are negative then our immune function will go down, but if they are positive this will actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more serious illness.

· Pain relief- Laugher stimulates the release of endorphins that interact with the brain receptors and reduce the perception of pain according to Dr. Robin Dunbar, professor at University of Oxford.

· Cardiovascular health-Endorphins and their by-products bind to the lining of blood vessels resulting in the release of nitric oxide which in turn dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, prevents clot formation and reduces inflammation according to Dr. Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

· Memory Retention- due to laughter causing a reduction in stress hormone cortisol it can improve scores on memory tests by indirectly enhancing the ability to remember according to a study from Loma Linda University in California.

· Improved perspective- laughter can make it easier to cope with difficult situations as well as decrease the feelings of depression or anxiety by improving feelings of overall happiness.


So even though these benefits may not be directly related to laughter, they are common with those who find it easy to laugh.


Another interesting thing a study published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development reported that when observing the interactions between mothers and children, the more the mothers laughed, the more their children laughed.


If we want our children to laugh and be happy, we need to start with laughing and choosing happy for ourselves first!


So, go out, find something that is funny and have a good laugh! You will thank me for it later!


And have a very Happy Valentine’s Day

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