For years, people have long wondered why people laugh. During earlier times, royal families and aristocrats laughed discreetly, because it is deemed the proper way to laugh while commoners were described as people of lower position because of how barbaric their laughter was. In today’s world, no matter how someone laughs, silently or ear-ruining, society does not place them in a box of labels, anymore.
Today, people don't think of laughter as just jokes. In fact, people even explore the health benefits of laughter.
Imagine hearing laughter throughout the day, and possibly thinking either those people are genuinely happy or having a psychological dilemma. But jokes aside, laughing is one way to express joy and amusement without having to utter words for emotions. Laughing shows that someone is having a good time, and it is a sign of friends, family, coworkers having a good time together.
Laughter and Anatomy
Commonly, we all know that laughter is a response to humor and not humor itself. When you hear a joke or watch funny videos, your brain signals your body to respond physiologically through laughter. As this happens, laughter comes out as two parts known as gestures and sound. This is best shown in an example where you laugh so hard that you may tend to kick your foot, slap your friend, clap like a seal, or jump up and down.
Scientifically, laughter is described as a rhythmic, vocalized, expiratory and involuntary action. Upon laughing, about fifteen of your facial muscles are at work; in your respiratory system, your epiglottis is half-closing your larynx, which makes you gasp for air. Often times (when laughing really hard), your tear ducts are activated, making you tear-up while you open and close your mouth, and the oxygen intake is struggling, leading you to appear really flushed or red.
It may seem like your body is in total work just because you find something funny. Unfortunately, if you laugh too much and end up reducing too much oxygen levels in your body, you can pass out. In some cases, it can induce heart attacks which can cause death; however, this scenario is very rare.
Is Laughter Healthy?
Do you think laughing is healthy? The answer to that question is a hundred yeses. Yes, laughter is healthy and is good for you. It poses a lot of benefits to your body and your mind. There have been a lot of research that scientifically proves to the world how laughter affects our bodies and minds.
Laughter and Physical Health
Laughing is one way to show how good you are feeling. Apart from being a natural reaction to humor, laughter offers a lot of benefits to your physical health, and there is a handful of them. Don’t worry about your laugh lines showing up as you age, that’s natural.
Lowers Blood Pressure: Laughing help lower blood pressures to its normal level which can help reduce risks for heart diseases and strokes.
Lowers Stress Hormones Levels: With laughing, it instantly reduces your stress hormones levels which can help cut anxiety and stress itself.
Boosts Immune System: According to research, since laughter is linked with reducing stress hormones. It can help boost your immune system because it triggers and helps produce more T-cells in your body. Due to this finding, laughter is linked with improving one’s physiological functioning.
Tone Your Abs: Yes, you read this right, apart from exercise that can help tone your abs, laughter can help it too. As you laugh, your abdominal muscles expand and contract similar when you do those crunches. Start adding laughter to your ab exercise routine and see results faster.
Improves Heart Health: If you are one of those people that cannot do cardio exercises due to an injury or illness, laughing often can help strengthen your cardiac muscles. It helps your heart pump more and can actually burn similar amounts of calories when you walk at a slow pace.
Increases Endorphins: Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers. The more often you laugh, the more endorphin your body produces.
Laughter and Mental Health
Asides from the physical benefits you can benefit from laughing, your mental health can benefit from it as well. It helps you seek out positivity and optimism amidst from the trials you have in your life.
Reduces distressing emotions: Laughter can help you feel less anxious, angry, and sad. This can help you put in a better mood as well.
Helps you relax: As mentioned in the physical benefits, it can reduce stress. By doing so, it helps your brain relax and recharge from all the stressors in your environment.
Helps See Things Differently: With laughter comes instant mood changes per se, but more importantly, it can help you see things in a different light. You don’t have to sulk your problems all day long when you can solve them in a different angle accompanied with laughter and humor.
Improves Relationships: Laughter can help two people get to know each other or help them become closer. Romantic relationships without humorous flavor can get dull fast as compared to those who add laughter to their relationships. This does not work only in romantic relationships but also among friends, families, and colleagues.
Laughter is Therapy: In psychological clinics and settings, research has found that laughter therapy or incorporating humor into therapy is an effect and non-evasive way to alleviating depression, anxiety, and stress management.
Increases Self-Efficacy: Research has found that laughter can help improve self-efficacy among employees. In addition, it can also reduce depression in the elderly.
Yoga is not only stretching out your muscles but extending your facial muscles for laughter.
Laughter yoga was the product of Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from India. It was during her formation of the Laughter Club back in 1995 that had started this revolutionary type of yoga. It is simple and has had profound results. However, Dr. Kataria was not the very first person to take into consideration on how important laughter is to society. Let’s rewind in the year 1960 where Gelotology¸ or the science of laughter, was first established by William Fry at the Stanford University. Gelotology was established to find out the underlying effects of laughter and humor in physiological and mental health. According to his studies, 1 minute of hearty laughter is equivalent to 10 minutes of jogging.
In a session of Laughter Yoga, some activities require participants to sit quietly in a circle. Suddenly as a funny word, thought, or memory comes across the participants, others would snicker, giggle, and until everyone was laughing hard. This type of activity is called gradient laughter which is fairly common in all laughter yogaclasses. Joining this type of yoga does not require you to wear any particular type of clothes, membership fees like in gyms, and most especially does not require you to be an easy laugher. Pretending to laugh or laughter simulations create and mimic the same effects a genuine laughter can in our body.
Some of the most profound direct effects you can experience after a session in laughter yoga or even laughter therapy are reduced stress levels, decreased pain, and improved mood. If such immediate effects can be garnered from laughter yoga, then imagine a weekly session and all the benefits it can give you.
Laughter yoga does not end its benefits in the hall with your other co-participants, but you can replicate this in your home and workplace as well. Laughing does not have to cost you a penny in your pocket. It takes a single thought to help you improve your mood and live a more positive life.
Starting today, laugh your way to a healthier and more harmonious life.