The busy and lightning-paced nature of modern life affects every one of us in some way. An unfortunate consequence of this is that every single person, at one time or another, is going to experience a period of great stress in their life.
Levels of stress can differ greatly, all the way from minor concerns about everyday matters to much more serious situations. But we all react to stress in different ways. Even the smallest thing can sometimes be enough to leave you feeling stressed-out, overwhelmed and unable to cope. This can seriously affect both your physical and mental health.
There are many ways to relieve or manage stress. The usual suspects are techniques like meditation, exercise, deep breathing, or other relaxing activities. In more serious cases, you might need a session with a therapist or a visit to a local help group.
There is one stress management technique, however, that sometimes gets overlooked, and this is laughter. There is some truth to the old saying that laughter is the best medicine!
There are many ways to introduce some more laughter into your life. Good options are meeting with friends, catching a live comedy show, or watching a funny movie. Some people find laughter so beneficial that they use laughter yoga to get their regular fix. It doesn’t really matter where or how you find it, just as long as it makes you laugh!
Laughter really is the best medicine
Here are a few ways in which laughing can relieve stress:
1. Full Body Relaxation
A good, hearty session of true, unadulterated laughter has been proven to release physical tension found within the body. This helps greatly in the process of relieving stress. As your muscles begin to relax, so does your entire body. Engaging in just five or ten minutes of hearty laughter can encourage your body’s muscles to relax so much that the benefits can be felt for the rest of the day.
Laughter has also been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure and feelings of stress and anxiety. If you are suffering from adrenal exhaustion, this is a huge positive.
2. Boost Your Immune System
Laughter increases your lymphatic circulation, regulates your cortisol level and increases the production of infection-fighting antibodies. These are all things that help to reduce stress and promote a healthy, strong immune system.
3. Endorphin Production
We all know endorphins as those magical things that are released into the body during and after extended periods of exercise. What you might not know is that endorphins can also be released during periods of laughter; a much easier form of exercise!
While you are laughing, the body produces and releases these natural chemicals that work to make you feel good and even give you a brief period of euphoria. This helps to improve mood and lower stress levels.
4. Good For Your Heart
A good session of laughter has been shown to improve and increase the function of your blood vessels, which in turn increases your blood flow. An increased blood flow can help to protect your body against the risk of heart attack and several other forms of cardiovascular issues.
Once again, this reduces the stress on our body, improves your health, and leaves you much more able to face any challenges that life throws at you.
5. Laughter Can Shift Perspective
One common aspect of stress is building up certain events in your mind and giving them much a bigger status than they might usually merit. Being trapped in your own thoughts during times of stress can lead to a downward spiral. Laughter can help by altering your perspective on what is causing your distress.
Emotional stressors that are constantly dwelled upon have the potential to continue growing. Getting together with friends or family and having a good laugh can actually shift you to a healthier perspective on your troubles.
Adding humor to your life is a great way to cope when you are feeling slightly overwhelmed. Seeing things from a funnier angle can put some distance between you and what you have been agonizing over. Also, you should never underestimate just how much a good laugh can help to distract you from whatever is causing you to worry, even if only for a relatively short time.