Have you had 15 laughs today?
Nina Chen, Human Development Specialist, Jackson County, University of Missouri Extension
How many laughs have you had today? Researchers suggest that the average American laugh 15 times or more a day for health maintenance.
If you don’t take time out for pleasure and always look at things in a serious or negative way, you are more likely to have health problems in the future. If you are a true workaholic and don’t take time for humor or laughing, you may actually be less productive and effective than if you took a break for a little humor during the daily grind. The following are some benefits of having laughter in your everyday life:
- Laughter can make you feel better. Laughter is a tool to lighten up your mood. Laughter helps you laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously. Laughter gives you opportunities to reduce conflicts and increase social interaction. Good laughter is like a social lubricant to help break the ice and ease social tension, which makes you feel better and confident even when communicating sensitive or serious information.
- Laughter reduces stress. Some physicians report that laughter can result in muscle relaxation, which helps reduce stress and headaches. Laughter is a powerful tool to release pent-up feelings of fear, anger and anxiety. Laughter is also known as an emotional weight-loss technique to help you feel lighter and healthier.
- Laughter is good exercise. Laughter has been called internal jogging. When you laugh, your muscles are activated, oxygen floods the blood, and the cardiovascular system dilates. Laughter can also stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain, the body’s natural pain-reducing enzymes. When endorphins increase, the feelings of pain decrease. Laughter can extend to every internal organ, giving them a healthy massage. For instance, the muscles in your face, arms, legs, stomach, diaphragm and thorax, as well as the circulatory and endocrine systems have a mini workout.
- Laughter is free. Laughter is non-fattening, non-polluting, non-taxable, no cost, constantly renewable and does not require batteries or special assembly. In addition, laughter is a free tool for team building. Good laughter can help pull the group together and build a bond among group members. Laughter and humor can increase group cohesion, which also can enhance group problem-solving skills.
So where do you get a steady supply of laughter? Start with being positive. Practice seeing the glass half full instead of half empty. Give yourself some rewards and time out for joy. If you are a serious person and seldom laugh, set a goal of 15 laughs a day until it starts to become a habit. Begin to look for humor and laughter in everyday situations. Before long you will find yourself laughing and enjoying life more. Laugh your way to good health and wellness!