Stressed? Laughter May Be the Best Medicine

By Sarah Sepe

Mental health is no laughing matter. Well, maybe it is.

For years, the age-old expression telling us that laughter is the best medicine has been circulating. Whether it’s being said by a mother comforting her child or someone saying it to themselves to justify going to the movies on a sick day, the saying lived on. It turns out, laughter may, in fact, be the best medicine after all. In honor of Global Belly Laugh Day on January 24th, let’s see what the pros are doing to get a good laugh in.

Laughing has many benefits for the human body and mind. According to Mayo Clinic, when it comes to short-term effects, laughter stimulates different organs in the body, like the heart, lungs and muscles, and enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air. 

Another short-term benefit, says Mayo Clinic, is stress relief. A hardy belly laugh relieves your stress response, leaving you feeling relaxed afterward. Because of the physical labor your body goes through to laugh, circulation and muscle relation are aided by the very act of laughing – this reduces the physical symptoms that stress may bring upon you.

The benefits of laughter are not solely psychological, they’re physiological as well. Though it’s fantastic that anxiety, stress and depression all improve when we laugh, our mind is not the only recipient of laughter’s benefits.

According to US National Institute of Health (NIH), laughter therapy has been implemented for treatment of dementia in older adults. The results? A positive climate: ensuring the environment of the treatment area breeds fruitful ground for instituting lifestyle changes.

If you want to give laughter a chance right now, make yourself laugh. The NIH says self-induced laughter is just as effective as spontaneous, or “genuine,” laughter.

So, self-indulge in your favorite comedy movie, phone a friend and recall a humorous story or simply open your mouth and let out a chuckle all on your own. After all, laughter is the best medicine.


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