We’ve all heard the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine,” and while we know that there is nothing funny about living with chronic illness or a life-changing diagnosis, it did get us thinking about the role that humor plays in the healing process. In this latest episode, Misti and I dive into the benefits of humor and laughter, as well as how we use it in our own daily life while dealing with health issues.
Check out Episode 8!
Studies have shown how powerful and beneficial laughter can be.
“How so?” you might ask? Well, laughter releases powerful endorphins that are able to bring a feeling of euphoria.
Benefits of laughter include:
- Stress reduction (reduces stress hormones).
- Decreases pain (studies show an increased pain tolerance due to the endorphins).
- Regulates blood pressure (studies show laughter can actually decrease resting blood pressure).
- Improved brain function (studies show increased oxygen levels from laughter help with brain function).
- Boosts immune system due to when you laugh, you actually eliminate toxins and increase the number of lymphocytes (your body’s main type of immune cell in your blood which helps protect you).
I know personally, when I am having a really tough day, I love turning to the internet to find chronic illness memes. Reading them not only gives my mood a little boost by making me laugh hysterically, but it reminds me of the amazing community that exists, and that there are others out there who “get it.”
Some examples of how we use humor on our social media:
Misti’s research found some great examples of how the data backs up the science.
In a 2019 study by Natalie van der Wal, it shows that laughter-inducing therapies can improve depression. In a more in depth 2019 study by De Francisco, the benefits of laughter are evaluated in a two month program; both groups achieved statistically significant increases in self-esteem and happiness with a decrease in trait anxiety.
Though laughter may not cure your illness, it certainly can’t hurt (and the data backs that up). Laughter can relieve your stress response and soothe tension. It can also stimulate your organs by increasing oxygen rich air and releasing an increased amount of endorphins. According to Mayo Clinic, bringing stress into your system can decrease your immune system, and laughter is a natural painkiller. Of course, laughter can improve your mood and coping skills too! So many amazing health benefits from something that takes little to no effort from us at all .
So, from us non-medical professionals over here, your prescription for today is:
Funny movies on netflix!
De Francisco, S., Torres, C., De Andrés, S., Millet, A., Ricart, M. T., Hernández-Martínez-Esparza, E., Abades, M., & Trujols, J. (2019).
Effectiveness of Integrative Laughter Therapy to Reduce Anxiety, Improve Self-Esteem and Increase Happiness: A Naturalistic Study at a Day Hospital for Addictive Disorders. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(21), 4194. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214194
van der Wal, C. N., & Kok, R. N. (2019). Laughter-inducing therapies: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Social science & medicine (1982), 232, 473–488. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.02.018