A: April is “Humor Month,” and we thank Helpguide.Org for providing this information on the health benefits of humor and laughter.
Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free and easy to use.
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others and keeps you grounded, focused and alert.
With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships and supporting both physical and emotional health.
• Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
• Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
• Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
• Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
The benefits of laughter
Physical health benefits: Boosts immunity, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes your muscles, prevents heart disease.
Mental health benefits: Adds joy and zest to life, eases anxiety and fear, relieves stress, improves mood and enhances resilience.
Social benefits: Strengthens relationships, attracts others to us, enhances teamwork, helps defuse conflict and promotes group bonding.
Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh – or even simply a smile – can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious — just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.
Madison County Health Care System encourages you to make humor a part of your day each and every day. It’s good for your health.
Information from HelpGuide.org, provided by Chris Nolte, director, Public Relations and Development, Madison County Health Care Systems, 300 West Hutchings, Winterset, 515-462-9749.