Laughter is the Best Medicine
Posted 11/13/2015 by UHBlog
Did you know that laughter plays a key role in your health? Humor lessens pain, general dissatisfaction and lack of contentment. In fact, countless studies have shown how it benefits your physiological and psychological well-being, says life coach Suzette Williamson, MA, LPCC.
“We know that when you laugh, endorphins are released,” she says. “They provide a burst of energy and engage your body physiologically. These are the same endorphins that are released when you smile. You’re creating bonds with other people through humor and laughter.”
According to Williamson, some of the ways that laughter benefits you is by:
- Improving your resting heart rate
- Increasing your level of alertness
- Improving your mood
- Raising your overall comfort level
- Relieving stress
- Enhancing your immune system
- Decreasing pain
“Humor and laughter bring you unknowingly into a state of relaxation – mainly by counteracting cortisol, a stress hormone. This allows you to look at life differently,” she says.
Oftentimes, your humor presents itself in strange places and at odd times, Williamson says – for instance, at a funeral. When you’re sharing funny stories about the recently deceased person, you’re also reflecting on the good and funny times.
“It’s a kind of medicine,” she says. “We tend to gravitate to the humor. That’s what gets us through the tough times.”
As you age, you need to practice your amusement skills and look for ways to increase mirth in your life. Otherwise, you risk taking yourself too seriously, becoming isolated and seeing life as threatening, Williamson says.
If you want to laugh more and live a humorous life, Williamson recommends that you:
- Incorporate play – This allows you to have moments where you can lighten up and live in the moment. If you’re able to be around children or pets, they can help you play. Otherwise, play a game that you enjoy with a friend or by yourself.
“When we play, it helps our creativity,” she says. “It makes us open to other options.”
- Adopt a playful attitude – This might involve viewing comedies or reading cartoons, but doing so can help incorporate humor into your daily routine.
- Share stories – When you tell a joke or story, or recall an embarrassing moment, you’re poking fun at yourself, re-shifting your thinking and finding humor in the situation.
“When we create a story around those things that happen in our lives, we’re able to recall and enjoy them years later,” Williamson says.
- Live life in the present – “When we’re in the moment, we’re not judging everything so critically and are able to see life’s little ironies,” she says. “We’re able to change the way we think – which can often influence our emotions and how we feel – and look at things with more curiosity.”
Suzette Williamson, MA, LPCC is a resilience specialist and life coach at the UH Connor Integrative Health Network. You can request an appointment with Williamson or any other UH Connor Integrative Health Network provider online.