• Nisha Jackson, PhD

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is the Best Medicine

As busy, highly stressed women, we tend to dismiss all forms of play. But psychologists have found that play—being silly, losing yourself in the moment, and engaging in something pointless but pleasurable—is essential to healthy relationships, stress reduction, and maintaining a sense of well-being. Laughing is one of the most positive, healthy, and easy things we can do for ourselves because it provides us with a huge lift, physically and emotionally. Plus, it’s totally free.

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline), while also increasing the level of health-enhancing hormones, like endorphins. Laughter even increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working for our immune system and enhances the overall effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system and fewer manifestations of the physical effects of stress, like exhaustion, depression, insomnia, and weight gain.

When you engage in laughing, you experience a physical cleansing effect as well as a sort of emotional release. You also get a bit of a physical workout (assuming it’s a good, belly laugh) from engaging the diaphragm, contracting the abdominal muscles, and stretching the shoulder muscles, leaving you more balanced and relaxed. Laughing is also great for the heart and increases oxygen levels throughout the body. The sad news, though, is that despite the enormous benefits of laughter, we are often just too tired, and we rarely take the time to indulge in a good belly laugh. When we lack episodes of laughter, connections, and touch, we easily begin to feel that our daily duties are laborious, painful, and downright frustrating. We have unfortunately lost our playfulness and silliness, only to exchange them over time with deadlines, dread, and exhaustion.


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© 2018 by Nisha Jackson

*this degree is from an unaccredited college and is not approved for use in Oregon