A good, hard laugh does more than just make you feel good. It also lowers blood pressure and reduces your level of cortisol, your body’s stress hormone. In addition, laughing increases endorphins, your body’s natural pain killers. Laughing even activates T cells, an important component of your body’s immune system. And get this — it can even tone your abs!
It’s really not so hard to make yourself laugh. Have you ever begun laughing just because someone else is laughing even though you had no idea why they were laughing? This is because laughing is contagious. So one way to make yourself laugh is to seek out other people who are laughing or even a video of other people laughing. Or you can look at silly cartoons or caricatures. You can also read a funny book or a comic strip. Have you ever tried a “stare-down” with another person to see who laughs first? It doesn’t take long for both people to burst out laughing. If all else fails, you can just try forcing out a laugh in a physical way — sometimes this is the jumpstart you need to start the laughs rolling. There doesn’t have to be a reason for the laughter. Just let it happen.
Of course there are times when a situation we are experiencing is so serious that we need to allow ourselves time to grieve our losses and heal emotionally. But even then, we may need a “break” from our seriousness. Humor can be a very effective coping technique that gives our bodies a reprieve from the stress we experience when we encounter difficult times. And like crying, laughing is cathartic, purging us of emotions that can overwhelm us when suppressed for too long.
So next time things are get too serious, don’t hesitate to lighten up with a good belly laugh. It’ll do you good!