5 Healing Benefits Of Laughter & Humor When You’re Stressed Out

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5 Healing Benefits Of Laughter When You’re Stressed
Health And Wellness

They say laughter is the best medicine, and it's true.

Everyone is navigating novel situations because of the pandemic. Understandably, these new situations — working from home, homeschooling, working from home while homeschooling — are causing significant stress and anxiety in many of our households.

Among a myriad of stress and anxiety management tools, my favorite is laughter. Humor heals, as long as you free yourself to tap into the benefits of laughter.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why Laughing Till Your Face Hurts Is The Best Medicine

A friend’s videotaped reaction to the three-week extension of the stay-at-home order was a priceless gift to her social media friends a few weeks ago.

She had gotten the giggles, and when I tripped across her video, I did too.

The laughter was unexpected and cathartic. Hers was the contagious kind of laughter that both engulfs and releases tension all at the same time, leaving you feeling happier, connected, and just better.

It was good!

It reminded me of how important laughter can be when it comes to managing stress and building resilience, no matter the crisis you face. And there are many good reasons why this is.

Laughter is as powerful an emotional release as crying is in its cascade of biological helpfulness.

Here are 4 healing benefits of laughter and humor when you're stressed out.

1. Laughter takes your mind off the situation.

Laughter has powerful distracting benefits. A sense of humor can heal.

Looking for the humor in a situation and even allowing yourself to laugh can be a strong catalyst for coping, managing anxiety, and be protective in building resilience.

As a bonus, when you share your laughter and humorous take about a common difficulty (as my friend did in her video), you help others take their minds off the situation, too.

Your humor heals not only you, but those who can appreciate it.

2. Laughter triggers a biochemical reaction that eases discomfort.

What's especially interesting is the relationship between the biochemistry of anxiety and laughter.

The amygdala is a very small area of the brain and is at the center of our threat response or fight-or-flight response. Yet, the amygdala is also involved in laughter.

While there's much more to learn about the biology of laughter, it can be particularly effective when it comes to releasing tension and stress, as well as tolerating anxiety and pain.

RELATED: The Best Feeling In The World Is Laughing With Someone You Love

3. Laughter leads to greater health.

Science is strong for laughter’s health benefits.

Laughing increases the production of immune cells and reduces cortisol, the hormone that's chronically high when an individual suffers from long-term stress and suppresses the immune system.

It also lowers blood pressure, antibody levels rise, and the body’s natural anticarcinogenic response accelerates.

Laughter truly is great medicine!

4. Laughter is a strong social glue.

Laughter is a powerful social catalyst. It connects us to others in that it releases the brain’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins.

It is also highly contagious. This makes laughter particularly efficient at building a connection, too.

5. Laughter improves mental performance.

Laughter improves cognition.

Developed by Rod Martin, a psychologist and laughter researcher, the theory explains this phenomenon as the result of an accelerated heart rate, which increases oxygen to the brain.

So whether it’s a favorite rerun of Seinfeld, the latest edition of Some Good News, or one of the top comedy movies of all time, search out opportunities to laugh wherever you can.

Discovering for yourself how humor heals can be a pleasure in itself and is a powerful tool in terms of resetting your mood and boosting resilience.

No matter the crisis, look for ways you can laugh. It will help!

RELATED: 8 Ways To Laugh Yourself Into To A Healthy, Happy, Stress-Free Life

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Dr. Alicia Clark is a licensed clinical psychologist. For more help with managing stress and anxiety, check out her anxiety blog, download her free ebook, or sign up for her newsletter.​

This article was originally published at aliciaclarkpsyd.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.