If you’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine for stress, you’ve heard the truth! It can be stronger than any over-the-counter aid you might take to beat your stress. In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that laughter actually produces physical responses that are designed to take your stress away. Here’s more of what the Mayo Clinic has to say about laughter.
Laughter and stress
Laughter can produce a feeling of relaxation by quickly activating and then releasing a stress response in your body. Although the tightening of your abs might feel more like a workout than a laughter meditation, you’re really relaxing your body as you laugh, allowing your stress to melt away. In addition, it can actually fight against the physical effects of stress, such as stomach aches, tension and digestion trouble. If you’re looking to relieve stress, the answer is fairly simple — just laugh.
Laughter can also be a beneficial, long-term medicine that improves your body’s functioning in a number of ways. Positive and negative thoughts are actually tied to the immune system. Thinking too many negative thoughts makes you more prone to disease, while thinking positive helps you fight off disease. And because laughing is about as positive as you can get, you’ll help to improve your overall immune functioning if you just laugh.
When you laugh, your body is encouraged to produce its own painkillers. If you’ve ever laughed until you fell asleep, then woke up feeling relaxed and in no pain, you’ve experienced this. Not only can laughing allow you to wake up fresh and relaxed, but it can also cure any pain you’ve been dealing with. So the next time you’re struggling with a headache, ask someone to tell you a good joke!
Laughter meditation through yoga
In addition to all the traditional ways people find themselves laughing, some people have begun practicing hasya yoga, or laughter yoga. A typical laughter yoga class involves laughter-friendly yoga poses and self-induced laughter. Because laughter involves being fully present in the current moment in body, soul and emotions, laughter is considered a form of meditation. Your laughter meditation session may begin with stretching, yawning and making funny faces, followed by sustained laughter for up to 20 minutes. When the laughter ceases on its own, you will likely end your laughter meditation session with a period of silent deep breathing and reflection.
Learning to laugh
There are several ways to try to get yourself in a health-promoting, laughter-inducing mood. For instance, you can surround yourself with comics, jokes, etc. that you find funny. Maybe even bookmark a few of your favorite silly websites. You can also take the approach of the comedy sleuth; try to find something funny to laugh at in every difficult situation. When you look on the bright side, you usually find a way to make it over there, one way or another.