Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Our Brand (Part 3) -- Laugh


It is said that laughter is the best medicine, and anyone who knows me knows that I love to laugh.  When I get stressed out, I usually start cracking jokes.  It is my coping mechanism.  But what is it about laughing that really helps a person?

According to the Mayo Clinic the benefits of laughter have several positive effects on a person.

Short-term benefits

A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body.

Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension: Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.


Long-term effects

Laughter isn't just a quick pick-me-up, though. It's also good for you over the long haul.

Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and make you feel happier.

We want to encourage you to laugh - A LOT!  It is OK to laugh at yourself when you do something utterly stupid!  Goodness knows that I do that quite often. 

Take for example throwing myself off the end of a treadmill.  Even though we thought I had broken my arm, I laughed about it.  The workers at the Rec Center thought I had lost my mind, but when I explained how ridiculous I must have looked, they laughed too.  It not only relieved my stress, but theirs as well.  You can bet that some of them were wondering if this crazy redheaded lady was going to try and sue the town for getting hurt on their property.  But by laughing at my own misfortune, I assured them that I took full responsibility for my own stupidity.  And yes, I am fine now.  :)

When laughter is shared it creates a bond between you and the other person or people.

In this day and age of LOL, ROFL, etc. do you actually laugh out loud?  I don't know anyone who actually rolls on the floor laughing, unless they are getting tickled.  Do you, when you type that, or are you just giving it lip service? 

Try actually laughing out loud and see if it helps you!  If you can't find something to laugh about, try watching some silly cat videos on YouTube.  It is next to impossible to not start laughing.  Watch a silly movie.  Get into a tickle fight, though me careful, Keith and I have been in a couple of them that have turned out painful!  Don't be afraid to get laugh lines around your eyes. 

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.

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