5 reasons why an LOL might help your health
Sometimes, LAUGHTER Is the Best Medicine. You know that friend who is always good for a loud, hearty laugh? Turns out her sunny disposition is healthy — for relaxation, immune function, and even pain management. Kaiser Permanente behavioral medicine specialist Amanda Bye, PsyD, offers five reasons you should, well, LOL.
1 Laughter is a stress-buster. “It releases endorphins, which helps people feel good,” Dr. Bye says. “Endorphins also increase tolerance for both physical and emotional pain.”
2 Laughter boosts immunity. “It increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, which help to prevent or fight disease,” Dr. Bye explains.
3 Laughter relaxes the body. A good belly laugh may pack a one-two punch. “Chemicals are released that relax us, and laughter changes how we look at things, too,” Dr. Bye adds. “If we look at something as being funny, it’s not as stressful or painful.”
4 Laughter strengthens social networks. “It’s a way for humans to connect to each other. People who use humor are seen as more socially likable,” Dr. Bye says, noting that laughter helps improve teamwork, decrease conflict, and otherwise make human connections stronger.
5 Laughter is a little bit of exercise. Before you laugh this one off, consider this: According to the American Cancer Society, the effects of laughter include increased breathing, oxygen use, and heart rate — all similar to a quick burst of physical activity.
How to Laugh More
Now that you know laughter is good for your health, you want more of it, right? Amanda Bye, PsyD, explains how.
Be social. “People are 30 times more likely to laugh in a social setting than alone,” Dr. Bye says. Go to laughter yoga or game night.
Look for the humor in situations. Laugh at yourself.
Spend time with children and pets. “The average child laughs 400 times a day,” Dr. Bye says.
Watch something funny on TV. Buy your child a joke book. Go to a comedy club.
Smile at yourself in the mirror. “Fake it until you feel it,” Dr. Bye says, noting that this strategy moves you closer to laughing.
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