Last April Fool’s Day, the Univera staff had a day of giggles and belly laughs as they pranked each other. You never knew when you would turn a corner and see a cutout of our President taped to a wall like he was popping out of a doorway or hiding behind a printer. And someone hid the coffee pot, which caused all sorts of chaos and trauma. There was also an escaped spider. In the end, it was a day of merriment and joy.
The best part is we all benefited from a little health boost at the same time. Most clichés have some truth behind them, and for “Laughter is the best medicine” that is definitely the case.
Whether it’s a chuckle, a rip-roaring guffaw, or snaughling, the side effects of laughter go beyond the immediate mood boost.
It’s a Mini Workout
Picture yourself laughing, or even better find a reason to laugh right now (go ahead, open another tab and watch a funny cat video.) When you laugh, your abdominal and other muscles are stimulated, your breathing quickens and your heart rate increases. Plus endorphins are released similar to a good workout. One study also found you even burn a few calories – up to 40 calories with just 10-15 minutes a day of laughter!
It’s a Natural Stress Reliever
In addition to improving your immediate mood and outlook, which naturally relaxes you, laughter reduces stress hormones in your body. These include cortisol, epinephrine, dopamine, and adrenaline. It also increases endorphins as mentioned above.
The physical release is something you may not have thought of, but are no probably saying, “of course!” Whether laughter comes in a moment of tension or sadness, presents itself unexpectedly, or results from an intentional consumption of funny videos, it just feels good. And it helps your body and mind relax and let go.
Seeing the humor in situations also helps you see the situations in a different light. This can provide a more realistic outlook, relieving stress just through the change of perception. For instance, have you ever been running late and you’re stuck in traffic. You’re steaming and stressed and you are about to blow a gasket. Then suddenly you hear the person next to you belting out Bohemian Rhapsody and you can’t help cracking up – it’s magic!
It Will Make You Smarter (or at least help with learning and memory)
A 2014 Study at Loma Linda University analyzed the effect of laughter on short-term memory in adults and found a correlation between watching funny videos and improvements in learning ability and delayed recall. Add that to the benefits above and your focus, memory, and sense of mental clarity are bound to be strong.
It’s an All-Around Positive Behavior
In addition to the above, your next chuckle may help your immune system, improve circulatory and heart health, improve mood and help with mental health, improve sleep, and may even relieve pain and help with blood sugar. At the very least, it feels good in the moment and you really can’t go wrong.
We officially give you permission to tell that knock-knock joke, make a cheesy pun, or watch your favorite funny movie. Share it with a friend – this may be the contagious thing you want to pass along.