Laugh for the Health of it

by Lee Ann Brown

I try and stay healthy, I do. I love to walk. In fact, I took a walk yesterday. Actually, I ended up walking a lot longer than I had planned because I got lost, and I didn’t even know that could happen on a treadmill.

We all know that diet and exercise are vital factors in keeping us healthy, but did you know that laughter is shown to be just as important?

I love to laugh and laugh often. I find laughter very glamorous, in fact. To me, laughter signifies a sense of humor, happiness, fun, a connection to someone or something. I love to share a good laugh. And even though I have no problem breaking out into a fit of uncontrollable laughter all by myself if something suddenly strikes me as funny, laughter is contagious and meant to be shared. Laugh, and a line forms to share it with you, and I am not just talking about the ones on your face.

It’s no joke that laughter is the best medicine (along with whatever your doctor prescribes, of course). And I personally love the suggestion of a glass of wine every night, too. But, in addition to this, there are numerous studies that conclude there are many health benefits from a daily dose of laughter. It’s positively funny!

Different studies have shown that one of the benefits of sharing a laugh with someone is the bonding experience that it creates, providing memories that can be enjoyed again and again. These shared memories create feelings of intimacy and happiness, which are important components to healthy relationships. Laughter has been shown to provide a plethora of healthy benefits. It can boost your immune system, release healthy endorphins, reduce stress and tension, produce natural painkillers, and is widely known to ease anxiety and tense situations by putting people at ease and helping them adapt to stressful situations. Which is why I highly recommend using a little humor when dealing with teenagers (even though they will probably still roll their eyes, at least you had a chuckle). And anything that helps you deal with a child, teenager, young adult, husband, mother, bad driver, or indifferent store clerk is invaluable. And laughter helps increase blood flow and improves the function of blood vessels, too, so have a heart-y, healthy laugh as often as possible. Humor promotes overall physical, mental and social well-being. So laugh for the health of it!

Therefore, I have to say that laughter is a very valuable accessory. And one should make sure to have their sense of humor with them each and every day.

Sometimes it is all that you have left at your disposal to get you through a situation. Be quick to laugh and laugh often. And this includes being able to laugh at yourself. You must know that laugh lines are much more attractive than scowls and furrows. Do not take things so seriously, and I am very serious about this. There really are very few things in life in which you can’t find the humor, if you take a minute and look for it (even at wildly inappropriate times, I am sorry to say).

Sharing a laugh with someone is one of the nicest things you can do for someone, so give the gift of laughter. What a gift it is to be able to make someone laugh. That might be the only positive thing that happened to them that day. And it’s free, too!

I know life is chaotic and stressful, and you might not even realize that you haven’t laughed in a long time (or maybe you are all too well aware), but there are ways to make room in your life for laughter. Here are a few ideas to get you on the laugh track:

Read something funny. It can be a book of humor essays, the cartoon section of the paper, a humorous novel, the greeting card section of the store (or my column!).

Watch a funny movie. Get together with a friend or group of friends that are in the mood to laugh and who have a good sense of humor. Now is not the time to get with the ones that want to vent about how everything is wrong in their life.

Go see a funny show. Many times just taking a few moments to relax is enough to lighten the mood and give you the space you need to find the funny.

I read that, on average, children laugh somewhere between 300 to 400 times a day and adults laugh only about 15 to 20 times a day. Now that’s nothing to laugh about! Keep that childlike playfulness alive in your life and you’ll be amazed at how much more fun you’re having, and staying healthy, too. Just be careful not to break your funny bone!

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