Laughing Your Way Through Difficult Times
by HelloMD Staff
March 17, 2020
We are living through uncertain times as COVID-19 dominates the news, our Facebook feeds and is affecting how we live our lives daily. As society seems to be shutting down, it's a tough situation for all of us. Sheltering-in-place, it's not World War II, and yes, we can handle it as we sit on our couches, or so the memes say. But, the stress and anxiety are overwhelming many of us, and that in turn lowers our immunity. The one thing we can do to combat the onslaught of negativity is to hit it with a boatload of laughter.
Laugh Out Loud
Few things feel as satisfying as an uncontrollable belly laugh. When you feel down in the dumps, or you’ve had a stressful day, laughing can sound like an impossible feat. Even if you don’t think you feel like cracking a smile, you have plenty of good reasons to find something to laugh about. Research shows that laughing has several benefits that can lift your mood and even help you relax.
Interestingly, not many animals laugh. Current research shows that even a good tickle will only get laughter from humans, apes, and rats. This leads us to scientists, who've often wondered why people laugh. It turns out that laughing has some surprising benefits for the body and brain.
Laughter Makes Your Body Relax
When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins that can help your body relax for up to 45 minutes. If you can work one laughing fit into each hour of the day, you can significantly reduce the amount of stress that you feel and help your muscles relax. It should take you a big step closer to reaching a state of happiness.
Some studies also show that forcing yourself to smile can improve your mood. When you smile, whether naturally or by sheer will, your brain produces chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. If you're not feeling great one day, give smiling a try to see whether it works for you.
Laughing Promotes Social Bonding & Reduces Feelings of Anxiety
Humans need social interaction to stay happy. Laughing promotes social bonding by increasing cooperation in groups and developing intimacy between individuals. You can see examples of this around the world. Nearly every culture uses laughter to encourage goodwill among groups. Nothing diffuses a tense situation as well as laughter.
Anger can do a lot of damage to your body. It puts your heart health at risk, increases your risk of stroke, and weakens your immune system. Anger can also make anxiety and depression worse. Laughing is the best antidote for anger. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter cools your stress response and eases tension. The next time you feel like punching something, find a reason to laugh. A few chuckles could help your body shed some of the tension and anxiety that contribute to anger.
Laughter Improves Your Immune System
It’s difficult to feel happy when you’re sick, but research shows that you may be able to avoid illness by laughing at least twice a week. One study shows that a couple of hearty laughs each week improved the immune systems of postpartum women. If it works for them, it will probably benefit you, too. As cold and flu season envelops you, try to find more reasons to laugh. Doing so could give your immune system the boost it needs to fight viruses.
Easy Ways to Induce Laughter and Reduce Stress
Sometimes you just don’t feel like laughing. That doesn’t you won’t benefit from laughter, though. In fact, you probably need laughter most when you find yourself in a bad mood.
You can elicit some chuckles by:
- Watching reruns of The Office, High Maintenance or your favorite TV show.
- Calling a friend who has a great sense of humor.
- Intentionally smiling (plenty of scientific evidence shows that making yourself smile can improve your mood).
- Consuming cannabis with a few friends to stimulate areas of the brain associated with happiness.
- Learning to laugh at yourself.
- Following funny Instagram accounts like @beigecardigan and @cashcats.
If you feel depressed, you might consider microdosing cannabis in addition to seeing a counselor or talking to your doctor. A lot of people with depression benefit from taking tiny amounts of OG Kush or Blue Dream.
Never dismiss the power of laughter. Laughing does much more than express joy. It can also put you on a path that leads to more happiness in your daily life. As a result, you’ll feel better and improve your overall health.