There is a wealth of research that shows that laughter is healthy for our bodies and minds in addition to making us feel good, and some research shows another surprising benefit of laughter: it can help decrease stress hormones even before it happens, writes stress management experts Elizabeth Scott for stress.about.com.
Researchers from Loma Linda University in California studied the cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopac (a metabolite of the neurtransmitter dopamine) levels of male volunteers both before, during, and after a humorous event that they were anticipating. They found that cortisol was reduced by 39 per cent, epinephrine by a whopping 70 per cent, and dopac by 39 per cent, even before the laughter began!
The same team studied the health effects of laughter two years ago in a similarly structured study that examined beta-endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller) and human growth hormone (HCG, which helps stimulate the immune system, along with other functions), and found that they increased by 27 per cent and 87 per cent respectively when subjects anticipated watching a humorous video.
Dr Lee Berk, the lead researcher from the team, said in a press release, “Our findings lead us to believe that by seeking out positive experiences that make us laugh we can do a lot with our physiology to stay well.”
You can plan laughter into your life
Watching humorous videos can bring real and measurable benefits, as demonstrated in this and other research. You don’t have to wait for funny moments to occur through the course of your life before you have a good laugh, you can plan laughter into your life by watching things that lift your spirits and make you laugh.
Anticipating laughter is helpful, too
You can create these benefits for yourself if you plan fun events in your life — watching comedies, as well as planning game nights and making an effort to talk to those who make you laugh on a regular basis.
Maintaining a sense of humour is healthy
If you can cultivate the ability to laugh at the stress in your life whenever possible, you can reverse some of the toll that stress takes on your body. This kind of coping can be contagious as well, so it’s a technique that can bring benefits to your loved ones, too....