You can give your body a really good health boost with laughter, so as solos it is so important for us to make time to include a daily dose of laughter in our lives – for the sake of our physical and mental health!
When work has been getting on top of you and you are feeling a little run down, it can be very therapeutic for your mood and immune system to have a good laugh. Researchers think laughter can be the best medicine to quickly help you feel better and put an energetic spring back in your step.
According to Steve Wilson, MA, CSP, a psychologist and laugh therapist, if people can get more laughter into their lives, they are a lot better off and can be healthier for it too.
We have talked before about Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish When You’re Living Alone, and we can look at introducing more opportunities for laughter into our life as just another form of self-care.
The power of positivity
While researchers are not yet sure if it is the physical act of laughing that makes people feel better, they suggest having a positive attitude to life with a good sense of humour can certainly help. Having a supportive network of family and friends can also play a role too, of course.
In fact, having a good belly-laugh or a fit of the giggles can be like having a mini exercise workout. Your body will be engaging a number of muscles and organs during the action of laughing so may offer a lot of the same advantages of a quick workout at home.
One of the side-effects of laughter is that it can help tone your abs. While laughing, the muscles in your abdomen expand and contract, similar to when you perform a set of ab crunches. So by adding laughter to your day, you can make aspiring to a toned stomach far more enjoyable, and who doesn’t want a killer set of abs, right?
What happens when we laugh?
The act of laughing causes a physiological change. When we laugh we contract and stretch most of our facial muscles. We also squeeze and release many muscles throughout our body, our blood pressure rises and our pulse increases. With breath in deeper and faster, sending more oxygen to our lungs and pumps blood full of nutrients coursing around our body to feed our cells.
The effects of laughter are so very similar to exercise, so you can see why people feel like they have just done a workout after a good laughing session! In fact, 10-15 minutes of laughter burns around 50 calories.
How laughter affects the body
When we laugh it causes a number of physical and mental responses throughout the body. These include:
- Increased blood flow
- Positive immune response
- Lowering stress levels
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Better ability to relax
- Improved sleep
There is no doubt that when we are feeling tense or stressed out if something funny happens causing us to burst into a fit of giggles, we can experience a great release of tension and feel very rejuvenated afterwards.
We can get the same effect from watching a side-splitting funny film, comedian or comedy show. Laughter activates our natural relaxation response and can give our internal organs a good workout.
Laughter can boosts immunity
According to a study conducted at Indiana State School of Nursing, mirthful laughter may increase natural killer cell levels, a type of white blood cell that attacks cancer cells.
Because laughter involves the contraction of many muscles, it increases blood flow and oxygenation to the body. This, in turn, triggers the release of endorphins that help us to feel physically and emotionally relaxed.
When we are relaxed and happy our stress levels are lower, therefore our immune system doesn’t get suppressed and can help to protect us more effectively.
How can we get more laughter into our life
While introducing more laughter into your life can help you to feel better, it can be a little more difficult to do for those of us who are or choose to be single. Because we don’t have a partner waiting for us at home who we can bounce jokes and funny stories off, it can be a little more challenging for us to hit our laughter quota.
As for singletons, there are a few things we can do to help introduce more laughter into our lives. We can take steps to ensure that we always have something to do that will make us laugh. Here are a few useful suggestions:
- Prioritise humour by buying a stack of funny books to read. When you find yourself at a loose end, you can pick a book title that you fancy and dive into the pages for a good laugh.
- Take your ‘Netflix and chill’ night to the next level by choosing to watch comedy shows or a funny film. Look for your favourite comedian and binge-watch their comedy series.
- Invite your friends around to share some wine and nibbles. Tell funny stories and share laughter.
- Take up Laughter Yoga (yes, that is a real thing!) which is a combination of exercises and yoga breathing techniques.
At the end of the day, always remember that life can be really funny! Grow your ability to laugh at yourself and see the humour in the situations you find yourself in. Share the same with friends and you will help encourage them to open up and share their funny stories too! Your ability to laugh at yourself makes you more appealing to others and can make you feel less anxious around others. Find opportunities to be silly! Dance around your living room in your pyjamas to your favourite music and let yourself laugh out loud…go on! No-one is looking.
Laughter is very similar to smiling. Both are contagious and neither will run out when you can share both with others!