You’ve heard all about a vicious cycle, but what about a positive cycle? That’s how we’d define the impact that laughter has on your well-being. You see, when you laugh, a legion of mind and body benefits are triggered, and the feel-good factor they provoke is likely to loop back and make you laugh more often. You probably don’t give it much thought while giggling at the same Friends joke you’ve heard 20 times over (thanks, Netflix), but there are reasons they say “laughter is the best medicine.” Improved workouts and lower blood pressure are just a few.
1. STRESS HORMONE LEVELS PLUMMET
Nap pods, indoor slides, overflowing snack bars… Google's famed company culture is focused on fun, and the effect of laughter on your temper makes it easy to see why. Not only does laughing release endorphins—your body's natural "happy" chemicals—but it also dials your stress hormone levels down. Now, just imagine how much more productive you’d be if you weren't always shoulders-scrunched-up-to-your-earlobes stressed.
2. YOUR WORKOUT GETS AN UPGRADE
You might wonder how much laughter can really affect how you exercise. As it turns out, quite a lot, given the triple-pronged benefits of laughing pre-workout. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm while contracting your abdominal muscles, mimicking the effects of mini crunches and loosening up your body. Then there's the news that laughter can heighten your pain threshold so you can push that much harder through a rigorous workout. Throw in the fact that it improves your mood, thus upping your enthusiasm in the gym, and it’s easy to see why hitting the treadmill at your happiest trumps dragging yourself through the motions.
3. IT STRENGTHENS YOUR RELATIONSHIP
This is a no-brainer. Everyone loves being around somebody who makes them laugh, so it's hardly a surprise to discover that laughter is great for your relationship. It all ties back, again, to endorphins; when you're laughing together, endorphins are released into your brain, creating an overall sense of happiness, contentment and well-being with your partner.
4. LEARNING BECOMES EASIER
If you want someone to remember something you're telling them, just make them laugh. According to studies, when you're learning, laughter improves your memory by linking that moment to an emotional response. Humour also reduces your anxiety and makes you feel less frazzled, leaving you in a better state to concentrate and asborb new information.
5. BLOOD PRESSURE IS REDUCED
While researchers say "mirthful laughter" can cause an initial spike in blood pressure, the rise is followed by a decrease that takes blood pressure below its normal resting level. In fact, one study claimed that watching a sitcom can improve your blood flow for a full 24 hours, while another stated that sad movies are actually harmful to your blood vessels. No more weeping to The Fault in Our Stars, then.
6. YOU’RE LESS LIKELY TO GET SICK
We're not telling you to ditch your daily multivitamin, but if you're looking to bolster your immune system further, laughing might just do the trick. Research indicates that giggling can increase the number of infection-fighting antibodies in your body, giving you an extra layer of protection from the cold-season germs on the rush-hour tube. We'll try anything, frankly…
HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF LAUGH
Not in the mood for laughter? That's okay. Acting coach Mel Churcher tells us it's possible to laugh on command. "Give your body the right clues and fake laughter will quickly feel real," he explains. Here's how you do it: "Smile. Put your hand on your stomach. Breathe in quickly through your nose, and then let your breath out through your mouth on 'huh,' 'huh,' huh,' feeling your stomach pumping inwards on each sound as you go faster and faster. Then let your real laughter take over. Have fun!"
It really is as easy as that.