Laughter is a great way to relieve pain and stress.


Laughter is very beneficial for health./ Image: Pexels.

mental health

A good laugh increases your blood circulation and makes you feel happy. That is, it has been proven that laughter can be therapeutic.

By Maria Corisco

November 7, 2023 / 1:44 pm

We often identify laughing with being happy, when the truth is that there is not necessarily a cause-effect relationship. laughter And happiness. Many of our best moments do not involve laughter, and vice versa: we can laugh at something without even saying that we are happy. Nevertheless, there is no doubt, and this has been confirmed by many investigations, that laughter has a therapeutic effect on us, in fact, it is used in psychology. laughter therapy,

The use of laughter as a psychotherapeutic technique dates back to the mid-70s of the last century and had as its protagonist a journalist, Norman Cousins, who published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled anatomy of a disease (from the patient’s perspective), The cousin, who suffered from ankylosing spondylitis and was in constant pain, said that spending time watching comedy movies every day not only gave him relief from pain but also greater mobility.

Cousins’ experience inspired many researchers, including William FryA psychiatrist at the University of Oxford who has studied the effects of laughter for 25 years has concluded that “Laughter has an analgesic effect, “Laughing continuously for five minutes releases endorphins – which have a similar action to morphine – and serotonin, which has a calming effect.”

Fry coined the term “gelotology” (from the Greek gelos) to define the science that studies the effects of laughter on the body and mind. Pioneering these studies, he experimented on himself in the early 60s: while watching movies featuring comedians like Laurel and Hardy, he took blood samples. This led them to discover that laughter could improve the activity of certain cells of the immune system, and also that just ten seconds of laughter increased their heart rates to levels similar to those reached after ten minutes of rowing. Or that it worked. Ventilate the lungs by taking in and out more air than usual.

Thus, for Fry, “laughter is as good an exercise as running, swimming or sailing.” He explains that “It works on the muscles of the face and chest, improving circulation and increasing breathing.”

From the Mayo Clinic, one of the most prestigious hospital centers in the United States, they have also investigated the effects and benefits of laughter on health. These are the conclusions they reached.

short term benefits of laughter

When we start laughing not only does our mental burden reduce, but physical changes also occur in the body:

  • organ stimulation. Laughter improves intake of air with high oxygen content, stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles, and increases endorphins released in the brain.
  • Activates and reduces the stress response. A good laugh boosts our mood, reduces anxiety and gives us a pleasant and relaxing feeling as the heart rate and blood pressure rise and then fall. It should be borne in mind that laughter reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increases the neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin.
  • Relieve stress. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and help relax muscles, which may reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

long term effects of laughing

Moreover, laughter is not only an instant healer, but also has long-term beneficial effects. Among them, from the Mayo Clinic, the following stand out:

  • Improves immune system. Negative thoughts sometimes manifest into chemical reactions that can affect the body by putting more stress on your system and reducing your immunity. Instead, positive thoughts may release neuropeptides that help deal with stress and potentially more serious diseases.
  • ease the pain. Laughter can relieve pain by causing the body to produce its own natural pain relievers (endorphins). According to Willibald Ruch, a research psychologist at the University of Zurich, “Humor can be used as a therapy to control pain and increase the level of tolerance to suffering.”
  • Personal satisfaction increases. Laughter also makes it easier to face difficult situations. Additionally, it helps us connect with other people, enhance our social skills, and ultimately seem closer to others, which can produce stress-blocking and health-boosting effects.

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