We’ve all heard the adage that laughter is the best medicine. But does laughing actually have health benefits? It does!
Some studies show that laughing has real health benefits. These benefits include increasing the circulation of antibodies in the bloodstream, reducing stress hormones and pain, as well as improving general mood. We could all use an extra dose of laughter!
The benefits of laughter
Yes, cardio and a good workout will help your heart. But did you know that when you laugh, your heart rate increases? Heavier laughter causes deeper breaths. Taking deeper breaths increases your heart rate even more. It might not be a rigorous 7-mile run, but it’s something! A few boisterous laughs to help prevent heart disease? Yes, please. The benefits of laughter aren’t just limited to heart health, though. Laughing can help keep us healthy in many ways.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s article “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke,” laughter has both long-term and short-term benefits.
Short-term benefits of laughter:
Activates and relieves your stress response.
Laughter is beneficial to us right now, so get to it! Laughing in your day-to-day activities can help relieve your stress and tension. It can even help in relationships and in the workplace.
Long-term benefits of laughter:
Improves your mood.
Helps heart health.
Helps with pain relief.
Benefits mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
The long-term benefits of laughing are impactful. Laughing more benefits us not just physically, but mentally too. It helps us live in a more fulfilling way and truly helps contribute to a better quality of life.
Kids and the benefits of laughter
Kids are always laughing. And we parents can facilitate even more of it. It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane of parenthood—work, chores, errands, cleaning, maintaining a house and family—and forget how important having fun and letting loose with our kids is.
Even though it’s the most basic practice, laughter doesn’t always come as easily to parents as it does to kids. It’s easy to forget to laugh and have fun with our kids. We’re all guilty of it. Let’s make some intentional time to laugh with them every day. Check out these helpful ways to gear up the giggles.
Ways to laugh more with our kids:
Buy a joke book.
Try silly challenges.
See who can make the silliest faces.
Play tickle monster.
See who can make the best accent.
Guess that sound/smell.
Watch a funny video.
See who can keep a straight face the longest.
Do some silly tongue-twisters.
Take silly pictures.
In the age of technology, we have plenty of access to filters and ways to alter pictures. Kids usually think silly phone filters are pretty hilarious. Adults, too.
Can you lick your elbow? Or figure out what someone is saying with a mouth full of marshmallows? These things may sound silly, but that’s the point! Let loose.
Make funny faces or noises. Don’t be afraid to be silly with your kids.
After all, it’s good for you!
Does laughter have to be genuine to be beneficial?
Studies show even fake laughing can bring the benefits of actually laughing. In fact, more often than not, fake laughing leads to genuine smiles. Even if you’re just being supportive of a cheesy joke. The muscles used to smile or laugh tell our brain to feel those things. So much so that even a forced smile can trick our brains.
Even if our brain doesn’t realize we’re just pretending, it still reaps the health benefits of actual laughter. In this case, fake it till you make it, right?
How to laugh more
By now, you know that laughter is really some excellent medicine. You know ways we can laugh more with our kids, and that laughter really has some power to make us feel happier, healthier and more at ease. But especially on days we don’t want to, how can we laugh more?
Tell yourself that you’re going to laugh out loud at least once a day then make it happen. And remember, even if you have to fake it, that still counts.
Ask a friend to help
Chances are you’re not alone in your struggle to laugh more. Don’t feel silly! Make a plan or a pact with a friend to check in with each other on how your goal to laugh more is going. Maybe even make a plan to do your laughing together.
Start with a smile
Are you getting dressed for the morning? Do it smiling. In the grocery store? Smile at three people. Waiting for the microwave? Smile at your reflection. It may feel silly, but smiling is the gateway to laughter—and you have to start somewhere!
Spend some time watching other people being funny
Instead of just scrolling your social media feed, try watching a funny video. Search for some stand-up comedy routines and watch those. Some people make a living being funny so that you’ll laugh more.
Be more present
Most of the time, there are funny things happening around us. Maybe we just miss them. So put down your phone. Take some deep breaths. Dinner and chores will still be there waiting.
Enjoy where you’re at and be ready and willing to laugh—with your kids, at your dog, over a stranger (Just maybe don’t tell them you’re laughing at them—that’d be embarrassing!). The world is full of things that make us smile. Notice those things. They could even make you healthier in more ways than one!
Kailyn Rhinehart writes from Warrensburg, Missouri. She lives with her husband and two small children and could definitely stand to laugh a little more.