Laughter really is the best medicine. A giggle here or there can be a contagious act of happiness, shifting your mode into a higher gear of amusement. But it isn’t just for fun or to be silly, laughter has been shown to improve, not only a person’s emotional wellbeing, but their mental and physical health as well.

We physiologically change each time we laugh. Our facial muscles stretch along with the rest of the body, giving way to belly laughs and a full body experience. Aside from burning some extra calories (50 calories per hour), laughter delivers a wealth of health benefits. Over the years, scientists have explored the natural process of laughter along with its potential therapeutic power.

According to the Yale Scientific, when we smile, the brain releases a neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which has the power to produce feelings of happiness and endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Smiling is a natural form of laughter, so once laughter unfolds, the brain responds by releasing nitric oxide, which triggers an anti-inflammatory effect that boosts the immune system - a combination that’s essential to fighting cancerous tumor growth.

The Cancer Treatment Centers of America reveals similar findings that support the laughter therapy’s impact on the body, as it help to alleviate physical pain and emotional stress. By simply indulging in some laughter, studies have shown it can enhance oxygen- rich air intake, boost the circulatory system, stimulate heart and lungs, balance blood pressure, ease digestion, improve memory and alertness, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and strengthen social bonds.

Laughter Therapy
Laughing by yourself or with a friend can help improve your health. Photo courtesy of Pixabay, public domain

Laughter As Therapy

If you want to try laughter therapy at home, within a group of close family and friends, or at a local class with perfect strangers, you are in for a wealth of benefits. Laughtertherapy can include different types of exercise, similar to a workout. Scheduling a time to laugh may seem strange at first, but laughter can be used as another form of therapy.

First, turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then force a guttural laugh. Once you have a bit of a giggle going, let it fall out of you with ease. Eventually, the laughter will loosen your muscles and tension and begin to not feel as forced. You may begin to feel a little light headed and buoyant.

If you need promptsto get you going, start off with appreciate laughter with another person. Look at them as you as laugh and allow their laughter to grab ahold of yours and begin to bounce of one another. If you’re alone, try Beethoven’s Fifth, which is laughing to one of his more well-known pieces of music: “Ha ha ha haaa, ha ha ha haaa.” Try mimicking animal laughter, such as pigs, dogs, cats, or monkeys.

There are all different ways to open the door into laughter therapy, it all comes down to finding the one that works for you. If you’re ever feeling down or distressed, try to find something that will trigger a laughing state of mind. A couple of laughslater and soon enough it’s anti-depressant effects will start to transform your entire body’s state into a calmer, more relaxed state.