Everyone loves a good laugh, but did you know that humor can actually have emotional and physical health benefits? It’s true! And the best thing about that is that most of the time, it’s not a major expense! Laughter relaxes the body and helps relieve stress. Being relaxed and less stressed contribute to having a stronger immune system. Because laughing increases blood flow throughout your body, it contributes to better hearth health. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins- you know, the feel-good hormones- in your body. You already know that laughing makes you feel happy and puts you in a good mood, but those endorphins are so powerful that they can even help reduce physical pain. Laughing expands your lungs and brings in more oxygen, which can give you a little boost when you’re tired and help increase your brain power. And just in case you need a little more convincing, laughing is actually cardio! Yes, you read right; laughing for just a few seconds can raise your heart rate for as long as 3-5 minutes. I love that it’s been referred to as “internal jogging!”
When you laugh, you put out positive vibes that attract others. Humans are, by nature, social, and interacting with others is important for our emotional health and well-being. Laughing with others promotes group bonding and helps strengthen relationships. When you have a sense of humor it’s easier to keep things in perspective. That won’t always make the world rosy when things are not great, but it can help.
So, how to make humor a regular part of your life? Start by smiling. After all, a smile is the beginning of a laugh, and smiles, like laughs, are contagious. Of course you can’t goof off all the time, but try not to take yourself so seriously- being able to laugh at yourself is essential for emotional health. Keep funny pictures around and look at them when you need a pick-me-up, and make sure to spend time every day with people who make you happy. If you can’t actually get together in person, a few minutes on the phone is just fine. There are plenty of humor websites that you can visit for a good laugh; try some that are listed here. And my personal favorite: watch a funny movie or TV show.
Exercising and eating well don’t have to be hard or unpleasant, but they are not always everyone’s favorite things to do for good health. But who can make a case against humor? Try it and be well!