Health, Stress, and Laughter – The Health Benefits of Laughing More

It has been observed that children laugh 300-400 times per day and adults only 15-20. This is not a funny statistic. It is a reflection on the way that as adults we take ourselves, and live way to seriously and do not look for the funny side of things.

Now I know that many of you are already thinking that life is serious and I do not have much to laugh at. Yet how we look at things is about us, not about the things we look at. For example, at a football game with one side in front by a long margin, the supporters of that side will be happy whereas the supporters of the losing side will not be. The event is the same. The score is the same. What colors how we feel about the same event is our perception.

It is not the aim of this article to suggest that every time your team loses that you start following a different team. It is to show that the same event can be seen as positive or negative depending on your beliefs and your perception. Without changing teams you can accept that today was not the day for your team and next week is a whole new ball game.

To get back to where we started, many, if not most, adults have lost the capacity to laugh at simple things. We feel we have to be serious all the time. Here is a memo: You can be an adult and laugh. It is OK. Not only that, it is actually very good for your health. Fun is part of pillar eight of DIY Health.

The big question is, why is this so important? Stress is one of the biggest contributors to diseases in the western world. This includes both mental health (depression anxiety etc) and also physical health (cancer, heart disease to name but two). Epidemiological studies have shown that severe stress over the preceding ten years correlated with a five-fold increase in cancer rates.

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to laugh. You can not be stressed and laugh at the same time. You cannot feel depressed and laugh at the same time. It is as simple as that. Of course you can’t laugh 24/7 but you do not need to. The effects carry forward through the physiological effects of laughing. These include lower blood pressure, reducing production of stress hormones (such as cortisol) and releasing the body’s own endorphins.

In many cities these days there are laughter classes and you can even do a form of laughter yoga. You can find jokes on the Internet; you can watch cartoons or other funny programs. Play with your children or grandchildren. There are many ways to laugh and have fun. Once you start to look, you will find them everywhere

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