The saying, “laughter is the best medicine” has been thrown around for years, but are there really benefits to laughing regularly? Recent research has started to show that for those who participate in laughter regularly may have positive psychological effects. Laughter in medicine was brought to people’s attention in 1979 when a book was published called As Anatomy of an Illness by author Norman Cousins where he discussed laughter making a pain-relieving effect which was cause by his ankylosing spondylitis, which is inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine and large joints. We live in an era that is deeply interested in preventative medicine. If laughter carries positive psychological effects to people something amazing about that, is it is free and has no side effects.
Spontaneous laughter which is also known as genuine laughter has been studied more over time and an early study looked at stress hormones level of 10 people with an hour-long funny video. In the experiment the cortisol decreased which is a stress hormone after watching the humor video. Additional studies have connected humor and laughter with better levels of pain tolerance. In 2011, a study was presented at the European Society of Cardiology found that vasodilative effects may last up to one hour after watching a funny movie scene compared to an action scene which can cause vasoconstriction. What happens when your body vasodilates is it is the widening of blood vessels and this increases blood flow to tissues in the body. Vasodilation also increases blood flow through the heart.
A study held in India recruited 115 professionals to take part in 7 sessions of laughter yoga for a way to decrease stress. The study involved deep breathing relaxation techniques after bursts of laughter. The study found a significant drop in the participants blood pressure and decreases in cortisol levels, again which is the stress hormone. The Mayo Clinic suggests that laughter can have positive short-term effects such as stimulating many organs, activating, and relieving your stress responses, and soothing tension. They also suggest that there are long-term effects of laughter such as improving the immune system, relieving pain, increasing personal satisfaction, and improving mood. Humor can benefit us mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. Laughter is a free activity and has no known negative side effects, so why not give it a try and see what happens?