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Laughing Matters

"The Benefits of a Good Laugh"
By: Ericka PingolLaughing Matters

Laughter is a whole body experience.  15 facial muscles contract, our breathing becomes irregular as we half-close our larynx, and even our tear ducts can become activated.  The muscles throughout the body contracts, as laughter spreads from our face, through our respiratory system, and eventually through our entire bodies. 

There are many benefits of having a giggle fit once in a while. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. According to mayoclinic.org, laughter has both short term and long term health benefits:

Short-term benefits

Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.

Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term benefits

Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.

Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.

Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.

Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and make you feel happier.

Finding your funny bone

While having a good laugh gives us plenty of health benefits, finding our humor is another thing. Finding and improving one’s humor seems to be a scary task. We would often think that one is born funny or not, but this is not always the case! Humor can be learned, and it is easier than you think.

Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies or comedy albums on hand for when you need an added humor boost.

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.

Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.

Knock-knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library's selection of joke books and get a few rib ticklers in your repertoire that you can share with friends.

Know what isn't funny. Don't laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren't appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad, or hurtful.

Go ahead and don’t suppress that grin on your face, let the world see and hear your laugh! A positive mood is infectious and you might just brighten someone else’s day aside from your own. Crack that joke you’ve been practicing all night and make someone laugh, you might even be surprised that people find you funny. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself from time to time as it helps keep your stress and worries at bay. Laughter really is the best medicine, adding a dose of humor in our everyday routine will surely benefit our overall wellbeing and improve how our mind, body and soul work.

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