Did you know there is science behind the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine?” When we laugh, our bodies produce a hormone that triggers healthy changes in the body which help us heal from the impacts of stress. Laughter is also known to help boost your energy, your immune system and even reduce pain. Now that’s powerful medicine!
When we experience stress, whether it’s because we are being chased by a bear or it’s because we just looked at our latest bank statement, what happens chemically in the body is the same.
Our brains release and shower our bodies with the hormone cortisol. This hormone is responsible for inflammation in the body. Inflammation has its own set of negative repercussions which I won’t get into, but in addition to inflammation, stress causes our heart rate and blood pressure to increase and our breath to become shallow and weak.
So you can probably start to imagine how stress over time, and without utilizing strategies to heal the body, can cause serious physiological damage. There are so many situations in our external world that have the potential to be stressful. We don't always have control over these things happening around us, but we do have control over the way we react to them and if/when we let go of them. I believe if we do not learn how to cope with stress and heal, we compromise our health and our happiness. New research reveals that 80% of all diseases may actually be stress related. That is why I feel so strongly about helping women better cope with stress by organizing their minds and their lives. The key is to make a conscious effort to incorporate stress relief activities in your daily routine and why I have shared my 5 tips to Heal from Stress. Laughter is just one of them.
What if I told you that this is even more important for women because we have a slight disadvantage when it comes to coping with stress? Why, do you ask? This slight disadvantage comes from the fact that our limbic systems are twice as big as men's. The limbic system is the area of the brain in charge of regulating emotion and memory. It influences emotions, the intuitive responses to those emotions, motivation, mood, and sensations of pain and pleasure. So essentially because we have larger limbic systems, we hold on to stressful experiences longer because of the emotions attached to the experience.
When I first learned about the limbic system it explained a lot and the differences between me and my husband. Why my husband has such an easier time bouncing back from stressful situations and never brings up old events. While every time I got annoyed with my husband I would connect it back to an incident that happened months or years back and feel those same emotions.
The good news is that Oxytocin, often called the stress 'off-switch' or the 'love' hormone lowers the stress hormone, cortisol. In order to produce oxytocin, we need to engage in certain activities like laughter that trigger a relaxation response both in the brain and in the body. During the relaxation response our mind clears, our muscles relax, and our heart rate and blood pressure lower.