South Asian Emotion: Laughter and Your Health

With the crazy schedules and the intense pressure that come with daily life, we forget to engage in the one thing that we have been able to do since we were 6 weeks old and that has very powerful healing and protective properties: laughter.

laughingLaughing has been shown repeatedly to have strong therapeutic properties. For example, laughter reduces adrenaline and cortisol production, which can accumulate especially during chronic stress. This is a significant protective property of laughter as it then strengthens the immune system and protects against illnesses and diseases.

Researchers have also found that laughter increases the number of antibodies in the mucous membranes of the nose and respiratory tract, thus lowering the frequency of colds, sore throats and upper respiratory tract infections.

In addition, laughing increases a production and release of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killers. This has been connected with a lessening of pain intensity due to arthritis, migraine headaches and even cancer and its treatments. Some research has also concluded that laughter can increase lung capacity and blood oxygen levels in people with asthma.

In 2000, a study conducted at the University of Maryland found that laughter and a sense of humor can help protect you against a heart attack. While they are not sure of the exact connection between the two, it is well known that mental stress is associated with an impairment of the protective barrier that lines our blood vessels, known as the endothelium. This can lead to fat and cholesterol build-up which is a causal factor for developing heart disease. The researchers of this study recommended that just as we build in exercise and proper nutrition for heart health, we should also be sure to laugh several times a day.

Yet other research has found that laughter improves mood especially if the laughter exists before and during the stressor. This can help explain why repair attempts during an argument with your significant other can significantly increase mood and lower stress levels to protect your relationship from unhealthy patterns.

In the end, laughing feels good and it is has very positive effects on our mind and body. So this holiday season, count how often you laugh. Try to see if you can laugh at least 3 times per day and take note of how you feel. It could help you get through any holiday stress and may increase your mood over this winter holiday.

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