Does Laughter Reduce Stress?

The resounding answer is yes!

life is better with laughter

Laughter can be your best friend in times of major stress.  And it is also one of the fun ways to relieve stress.  I would like to share a story that recently happened to my mother and I just last week. I preface this story with the disclaimer that every single member of my family is klutzy and when we accidently hurt ourselves it’s always in a theatric manner.

For example, one of my brothers was power cleaning his driveway once and managed to accidently get his foot in the way…need I say more?  I personally once managed to trip on a curb at midnight, fell in grand fashion and ultimately suffered a major concussion.  My mother many years ago accidently dropped a frozen duck on her foot (She still defrosted the duck and made a wonderful meal, while on crutches).  I think you get the idea…

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Now back to the story…Apparently, my mother decided she wanted a cup of coffee and a snack about 3:00 in the afternoon.  She jumped on her trusty scooter to go to where the refreshments were being served.  While still on the scooter, someone apparently handed my mother a hot cup of coffee.

While attempting to drive the scooter and hold the cup of hot coffee, she somehow managed to do something that made the scooter go around in circles.  From what I understand from observers, she still held tight to the coffee while trying to right the scooter.  It didn’t work and after spinning around many times, she was thrown from the scooter and the scooter tipped over on her….all this while she held tight to the coffee.  Luckily, she was not hurt!

Here’s What Happened Next

I was on my way to see her for the weekend when all this happens.  She calls me and innocently tries to explain the situation, describing it in such a way that I wouldn’t freak out that she just had a scooter spin her around several times and then fall on her.  I whirling dervishfinally arrived at her home and made sure she, in fact, was fine. People in her building who saw the incident kept stopping me to tell me how many times she spun around…one person even asked me if the scooter was alright, oddly not mentioning my mother at all.  One person told me it was like watching a whirling dervish in action.

I finally got upstairs to see my mom and was incredibly relieved to see that she was fine, just a little shaken.  And then it happened…she and I started to laugh hysterically over the absurdness of the situation.  We continued to laugh the entire weekend…it was the stress reliever that both of us clearly needed.  The best line of the weekend came from my eldest brother who said, “Some people should not drink and drive.”  I still think laughter is still the best medicine!

What are the Health Benefits of Laughter?

Everyone always says that laughter is the best medicine, but is there actually clinical proof that this is true?  It’s a laughing grandmotherproven fact that our bodies undergo changes when we laugh.

  • Our face and body muscles stretch when we laugh
  • Our blood pressure and heart rate go up
  • We start to breath faster sending more oxygen through our body
  • There is even research that suggests that laughter can help your immune system and even decrease blood sugar levels in diabetics
  • Endorphins are released and you get the equivalent of a runner’s high (i.e. you feel great)

In fact, pioneering laughter researcher William Fry pointed to many similarities between laughing and exercising.  He actually tested how much exercise you would need  to raise your heart rate to equal 1 minute of good laughter.  His result showed that it took approximately 10 minutes on a rowing machine to achieve the same benefits of one minute of laughing!

Does that mean that if I watch my favorite movie Young Frankenstein and laugh for 100 minutes straight that I will have achieved a workout equivalent to 16 hours?  No, of course not…but what it does indicate is that laughter is physiologically beneficial.  That’s the bottom-line.

Laughter and the Elderly

Now that we have established the benefits of laughter, let’s take a look at the effects on the elderly.  A fascinating study was recently conducted that showed that there is a link between laughter and memory loss.  The study showed that when seniors laugh more, their memory improved.

In the study, a 20-minute funny video was shown to a select group of seniors.  The study found that cortisol, a stress hormone was much lower among the group of seniors that had just been shown the video.  Lower cortisol can decrease stress on the brain and thus can potentially help with memory.

Tips to Laugh More, Stress Less
  1.  Watch a funny TV show right before you go to bed.  This way you will go to sleep with a smile on your face.
  2. Every day, think of 2 really funny incidents that just make you laugh (and then laugh, repeat).funny coffee cup
  3. Read a funny book for a change, rather than a heavy drama.  I personally recommend Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series books.
  4. Hang out with people who genuinely make you laugh.
  5. Share a funny story with friends.
  6. Try to find humor in everyday things.
  7. Buy yourself a coffee cup or 2 with funny sayings just to make you smile.

What do you do to bring more laughter into your life?  Please share with our readers!

Thanks for stopping by!

Ruth

Related Article:  The Best Exercises for Seniors

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