South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)
Laughter is Important for Wellness
"Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on."~Bob Newhart
October is Emotional Wellness Month and while we should be concerned all year with emotional wellness, this month highlights it. There are many ways to be or stay emotionally healthy: sleep, healthy diet, exercise, etc. However, sometimes a good laugh can help us take a mental vacation from life's problems and gain some perspective. Aside from the little mental break we get, laughter is good for many other aspects of our lives.
Laughter is a prescription free medicine for our bodies and minds!
Nothing works faster or is more reliable in bringing your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Here are some health benefits of laughter:
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Laughter and humor help you stay emotionally healthy!
Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides.
- Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
- Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
- Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Bring more laughter and fun into your life!
Here are some ways to start:
- Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.
- 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’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
- When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
- 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?”
Today is a great way to start laughing. You can never be too young or too old to enjoy a good laugh. So, find a comic you like, see a comedy movie, tell some jokes with friends, anything you have to do to get out there and laugh, go do it!