Laugh At Your Stress?
We often hear the old adage “Laughter is the best medicine.” Modern research supports this notion that was intuitive in an earlier time. When we laugh, our bodies produce a hormone that triggers healthy changes in the body that helps us heal from the affects of stress while helping boost your energy, your immune system and even reduce pain.
Is Your Hormone Pump Stuck On?
Our brains release the hormone cortisol that is responsible for inflammation in the body and for triggering the stress response known as fight, flight or freeze. I have had issues with a hip this summer as a result of inflammation. When I get pain that I cannot identify a physical cause for I always look at my stress levels. A vacation is in order I guess (OK – I am in Ireland as you read this so I should be great by the time you read this.)
Is Laughter the Off Switch to Stress?
When you laugh the hormone Oxytocin is produced. It counters the stress hormone cortisol. A new study from Loma Linda University in California finds that humour may reduce brain damage caused by the “stress hormone” cortisol, which in turn, improves memory. The research team, led by Dr. Gurinder Singh Bains, recently presented their findings at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego. In their study they found that individuals, particularly the elderly, had much better recall if they watched a twenty-minute humorous video before performing memory tests.
Laughter also increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward as well as lowering blood pressure. This is good for you physically and emotionally.
How Do You Get Laughing?
- Start (and this is really hard for some of us) by taking yourself less seriously and giving yourself permission to laugh.
- Listen to a good comedian while commuting, mowing the lawn or on your daily walk (you do have a daily walk don’t you?)
- Hang out with people who make you laugh
- Look for a funny side to your stressor. I got stressed a little while ago from having new clients. That is rather strange in a funny way, I hope, when I am self-employed and need clients to make a living. Sometimes laughing at ourselves makes a great ‘ego checker’ and also can be used to break social tension.
- Just laugh for laughs sake. Even if you don’t feel like it you won’t be able to stop once you get going. Just look at someone smiling or laughing; it’s contagious.
- Subscribe to a joke service on your devices so that you can have a quick ‘pick-me-up’.
Please post your favorite laugh trick for reducing stress.
Bill is a life coach in Ottawa working with life work balance.