I was reading a study earlier this week that caught my attention. It made me think deeply about
my own life and the lives of those around me. We often find ourselves consumed with body
image and how to change it and we usually think more about the physical change than the
emotional change. Funny enough, the emotional change is often exactly what spurs and sparks
the hormones that create physical change. The study said that women with high anxiety had DNA
damage similar to someone six years older than their actual age!
Yep, as the song says… “Don’t worry, be happy!”
I started looking up physical actions that could help emotional happiness and of course, laughter
came up. I even downloaded laughter apps on my phone! Some were pretty creepy as the
laughter tracks sounded a bit over the top but some made me laugh rather raucously. I
immediately thought about my friends who make me laugh - and movies - and animal videos
that make me giggle on Facebook. It is no surprise that laughter can benefit our health in
Laughter decreases stress hormones, while increasing immune cells and infection fighting
antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of
endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemical. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being
and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Here are a few more interesting facts about laughter
- Laughter protects the heart, improves the function of blood vessels, and increases blood flow
which can help protect you against a heart attack, heart disease, and other cardiovascular
- Laughing can decrease pain and relax the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical
tension and stress leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter burns calories. OK, it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found
that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn about 40 calories, which could be enough to
lose three or four pounds over the course of a year!
- Laughter may even help you live longer. A study out of Norway found that people with a
strong sense of humor outlived those who didn't laugh as much. The difference was particularly
notable for people battling cancer.
If you want to infuse a little laughter and good energy into your week, here are a few ideas…
- Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter and like laughter, it’s contagious.
- Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in
your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter.
- When you hear laughter, move toward it.
- Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily, both at themselves
and at life’s absurdities, and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point
of view and laughter are contagious.
- Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you
today? This week? In your life?”
-Share funny moments (even if they are embarrassing) and learn to laugh at yourself. Be
vulnerable and take yourself less seriously.