The Health Benefits of Laughing
September 5, 2018
Q: What do you call a zucchini noodle?
A: An impasta!
At IIN, we teach the importance of joy in living a healthy and balanced life. Health isn’t just about eating kale and getting proper exercise; it’s equally important to relax, play, and laugh. We’ve all heard that “laughter is the best medicine,” and it’s true!
There are so many benefits of laughing. For starters, it can deepen our bonds with other people, help us feel more alive, and ease our anxieties. Laughter can also lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormone levels, boost immunity, and release endorphins. (And a wholesome belly laugh will even strengthen our abs!)
The benefits of laughter are so universally recognized that laughter therapy has become a widely used modality for holistic healing. The National Cancer Institute defines it as “a type of therapy that uses humor to help relieve pain and stress and improve a person’s sense of well-being.” It may also be used to “help people cope with a serious disease, such as cancer. Laughter therapy may include laughter exercises, clowns, and comedy movies, books, games, and puzzles.”
Did you know that the average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day, while the average 40-year-old only laughs fourtimes!? It’s unfortunate, but true. Laughter therapy is a helpful step in reminding adults how to use their inborn gift of laughter to cultivate greater joy and health.
There are two primary types of laughter: involuntary and social.
Involuntary laughter is a natural physiological response our body has. In other words, we are not consciously choosing to laugh, and often we can’t stop ourselves! Similar to sneezing, we don’t have control over it or choose when it comes – it just arises.
Social laughter is used as a method for communicating with others. For instance, if you’re talking to a friend and they tell you a story, you may giggle to let them know, “I am listening, and I think that is a silly story.” You are not taken over by laughter, but are instead compassionately connecting with your friend.
Both types of laughter are beneficial for our health in their own right.
So tell a joke to a colleague, go to a comedy show with a friend, or laugh for no reason at all. It’s good for you!
…It would be wrong to end this post without telling another cheesy joke, so here goes:
Q: What do you call a pig that does karate?
A: A pork chop!