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Thursday, 22 November 2018 08:00

Is laughter the best medicine?

When it comes to laughter, this may be the last thing on a caregiver’s mind on a day-to-day basis. Let’s be honest –  the combination of never-ending daily tasks, chores, errands, responsibilities and frustrations is more likely to bring on bouts of tears than it is laughter!

Nevertheless, experts believe that laughter is the best medicine for perking up both mental and physical health. But how is this so? Well, quite simply, bouts of laughter help to release stress and increase the body’s production of the ‘’happy hormone’’ known as .

The physiological benefits of the laughter on the human body and mind:

Many experts believe that laughter works as a complementary therapeutic medicine which can benefit both our physical and mental health in the following ways:

  • Improved immune response: laughter is said to increase the release of certain hormones in the body, including antibodies which work to fend off infection and boost our immune response to disease.
  • Improved blood flow: when you laugh the tissue lining inside blood vessels dilate and expand, which works to increase blood flow to our vital organs.
  • Acts as a form of pain relief: according to studies, 10 minutes of laughter can provide up to two hours of pain relief due to the release of ‘’feel good’’ hormones.
  • Lowers blood pressure: due to the fact that laughter helps to improve blood flow, this in turn, helps to lower blood pressure levels.
  • Laughter acts as a form of physical exercise: yes, that’s right, according to research, 1 minute of laughter equates to 10 minutes of exercise on a rowing machine.

Even if you aren’t feeling overly happy or positive, the body cannot differentiate between fake laughter and real laughter. Ultimately, you reap the same physiological benefits from laughter.

According to the American School of Laughter Yoga, the following exercises have proven to lower stress levels:

  • Gradient laughter: Take some time to yourself, whether it’s in your car or alone at home and fake a smile. Then begin to giggle and work up to full-blown laughter. Gradually increase the volume and tempo as you go.
  • Hearty laughter: In this exercise, find a large open space, spread your arms wide out beside you, look up to the sky and laugh heartily from your belly.
  • I don’t know why I am laughing: Find a mirror and look at yourself while you laugh, even if it’s fake laughter, while shrugging your shoulders. Try to convey the message to yourself that you have no idea why you’re laughing.
  • Find your laughing centre: While you break out in laughter, probe your head with your index finger, as if looking for your "laughing centre’’. Imagine that each spot you probe triggers your laughter.

Sure, you may feel a little silly during any one of the above laughter exercises, but you might be surprised at what a difference it could make to your mood. The next time you are feeling down, demotivated or stressed, break into laughter, even if it’s fake, what have you got to lose?

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