The world feels like a very scary place for lots of people these days. And there is a plethora of both good and bad advice being offered to ‘stay safe’. Today, however, I only have one piece of advice: LAUGH MORE. Yes, that’s right. Laughter is an immune booster. And if you boost your immune system, your body is more able to fend off any attack launched against it, keeping you safer from all those scary bugs and germs out there.
You’ve probably heard that stress contributes to sickness, right? De-stress (easier said than done sometimes) to help your body stay healthy. It’s only logical that the laughter, joy and happiness would then boost the immune system that stress threatens to weaken.
The Father of Laughter Therapy
Norman Cousins, an American journalist, turned to laughter as a way to heal himself from a life-threatening form of arthritis. Once he was told there was nothing more that could be done to help him, Cousins checked out of the hospital and into a hotel where he self-administered huge doses of Vitamin C and Marx Brothers films. He believes his laughter therapy cured his disease.
Cousins said, “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep. When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval.” (Reference)
There have been numerous other studies done on the effects of laughter on the body. In one study, subjects were shown either a funny video or a stressful one. The people who watched the funny video and laughed out loud (not just smiling), significantly increased their immune function. We could all use a bit of that these days, don’t you think?
The Benefits of Laughter
I know I’d gladly trade laughter for pain any day. But what does laughter actually do for us?
It helps increase oxygen intake which also increases heart, lung and muscle function.
- It stimulates circulation which in turn helps to relax your muscles.
- It reduces stress while it also strengthens the immune system and increases NK (natural killer) cell activity.
- It helps release the body from tension.
- It’s a free, non-toxic distraction (which can also help reduce stress).
- It helps produce positive emotions and optimistic thinking.
- It improves sleep (which is a good way to also improve immune functioning).
- The body often responds to laughter in a similar way as it does to exercise.
Increase your Laughter
So, are you ready for some immune system uplifting? Here are some ideas:
Get together with close friends and reminisce on the ‘good ol’ days’ (you’re 30 times more likely to laugh with friends than to laugh alone).
Watch a humorous movie or two.
Go to an open mic or karaoke or comedian act.
Spend time with kids. Their laughter is infectious.
Think outside yourself for a bit and do something surprising for someone else.
Learn to laugh at yourself.
Try diffusing one of the citrus essential oils like wild orange, grapefruit, an invigorating blend, etc.) as they will help lift your mood and make it easier to laugh.
And next time you’re tempted to fret over the state of the world around you, focus on finding something to laugh about instead. After all, laughter might just be the best medicine around (and it’s infectious in a good way)!