family laughing

Laughter is the best medicine

Laugh more for your health

“Laughter is a bodily exercise, precious to health.” – Aristotle

We all need to laugh more for our mental and physical health.  The constant flow of negative news stories,  social media posts and miserable weather affects everyone’s mood. We all know that if our mood is low we can feel lethargic and aches and pains become more apparent. Once you start to feel pain then it in turn can affect your mental health and a vicious circle can start.

The physiological benefits of laughter

When you laugh there are several healthy physiological changes.

  • Your tolerance to pain increases.
    • Laughter increases your tolerance to pain by increasing the pain threshold.
  • When you laugh you stretch and relax your muscles
    • have you ever had the belly ache associated with roaring with laughter for several minutes? That occurs when you have given your diaphragm and abdominal muscles a really good work out – similar to doing a gym class.
  • Your blood circulation improves.
    • Laughter helps increase the oxygen in your blood and stimulates circulation reducing blood pressure.
  • You increase your oxygen intake.
    • As you laugh you will draw in a larger volume of oxygen, which can help increase your lung capacity.

The psychological benefits of laughter

Laughter also improves your mental health as it

  • Laughter releases endorphins and serotonin, neurotransmitters used in the mood control centre of your brain, which improve your sense of well-being and energy levels.
  • It reduces the stress hormone cortisol, reducing (and reversing) your stress response.
  • It improves memory and creative thinking processes.
  • Laughter is contagious and encouraging others to laugh will help prolong your laughter.

How to build laughter into your life.

For most of us a good belly laugh occurs in the presence of others – laughing at stories or jokes, a funny mishap, or the kids’ silly antics.

With younger children it is easy to get drawn in to their joy. Just watch them play, they have the most infectious giggles, tickle, chase, and dance with them. Get school age children to tell you silly jokes – they will often get them wrong cue more laughter. It won’t be long before you are all giggling helplessly and your stomachs will begin to ache.

If you have older kids it may be harder (especially if you need to separate them from their tech).  Set them a challenge, get them to think up things make you laugh. Join in with their interests that make them happy or watch films or online video clips that they think are funny. Are they up for playing to unexpected pranks (nothing dangerous or damaging!)? Try some of the current dance challenges with them. Anything to get them out of their rooms and laughing.

With friends and family, ensure you are in a relaxed welcoming space and enjoy time together. Cook and share a meal together, rehash funny memories or stories, or play some silly games such as Speak Out, charades or Pictionary.

How can osteopathy help?

The more you laugh the easier it will become, and if you find yourself with sore stomach muscles, your osteopath will be able to show you how to stretch them out. Make sure you tell your osteopath you need to laugh more, they may have a great source of silly stories or jokes to keep you entertained during your appointment, and they will want you to relax and will be happy to encourage you to laugh.

If you are looking for a more inventive way you could try laughter yoga.

If you need some help with those aches and pain so you can laugh more then please contact us to see how we can help.