We all have a bad day now and then. You know, those days when you wake up grumpy and nothing seems to go your way–remember Alexander and his “terrible, horrible, no good very bad day?” But then your pet or your kid does something really cute that makes you laugh and your whole outlook brightens! Well, there’s actually science behind that reaction–scientific facts reveal that a good belly laugh can improve our mind, body, and spirit.
Dr. Lee Berk, an immunologist at Loma Linda University, has studied the effects of mirthful laughter on the regulation of hormones. Berk and his colleagues found that laughter helps the brain regulate the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. A Vanderbilt University study estimated that just 10-15 minutes of laughter a day can burn up to 40 calories. Meanwhile, a University of Maryland study found that a sense of humor can protect against heart disease.
Here are some other health benefits of laughter:
- Relieves stress which can lower blood pressure.
- Provides cardio benefits and tightens your abs.
- Boosts T-Cells & releases endorphins (the brain’s “feel-good” chemical) which help you fight off sickness & relieve pain.
- Improves your sense of well-being and gives you a more positive outlook.
Laughter is contagious! Use it to connect with other people.
- Go to the bookstore and browse through some joke books. Buy one that tickles your fancy and read a joke every morning. Bring a smile to someone else by sharing your joke with a friend.
- Surround yourself with funny people. Spend as much time with them as you can.
- Try to put a humorous spin on situations in your own life. By doing so, you’ll also be finding the positive in potentially negative situations.
- Laugh with a group. Go to a comedy club or try laughter yoga.
April kicks off National Humor Month which promotes the benefits of humor and laughter. So put a smile on your face – even if it may feel forced – and you’ll find that the world really does smile with you. Go ahead, giggle, chuckle, or guffaw those bad days away!
Julie Sloan worked in the marketing department at Jefferson Center. When not at a computer, she spends her time exploring Boulder with family, friends and her dogs, Beau and Luna.