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Laughter is the best medicine

by Floro Mercene

Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and science backs that up. A good laugh has great short-term effects. It actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughing with others releases endorphins in the brain – our homegrown feel-good chemicals – via opioid receptors. Laughter induces euphoria, which a person experiences pleasure or excitement and intense feeling of well-being and happiness.

Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, which results to a good, relaxing feeling. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

As for long-term effects, laughter decreases stress hormones and improve on immune systems and boosts endorphins, feel good chemicals. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can make it easier to cope with difficult situations, and help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.

Spreading endorphin released through groups promotes a sense of togetherness and safety. That’s why social laughter is so contagious. Someone starts laughing others will laugh even if they are not sure what everyone is laughing about.

Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. You don’t need any sense of humor to laugh. You don’t have to be happy in order to laugh. In laughter yoga, people practice laughter as a group. Laughter is forced at first, but it can soon turn into spontaneous laughter.