Do yourself and your health some good by stressing less and laughing more. If you are like the average adult, you laugh about 15 to 18 times a day. It would actually do our health good, emotionally and physically, if we laughed more every day.
When it comes to laughter, we can look to children as our role models—kids laugh about 200 times daily. Research suggests that children with a well-developed sense of humor are happier and more optimistic. Kids who can appreciate and share humor are better liked by their peers and are better equipped to handle differences and adversities.
For us grown-ups too, laughing helps us to connect to others in our work and personal lives. A good sense of humor can increase our ability to cope with challenges or see things from a different perspective.
Laughter may also be good medicine. A study at the University of Maryland found that laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect against heart disease. Other studies propose that laughing has a positive physiological impact that may lead to muscle relaxation, reduction of stress hormones, strengthening the immune system, lowering pain, and exercising our heart, stomach muscles, and lungs.
Laughter can also help us to connect to others. Comedian Victor Borge described laughter as “the shortest distance between two people.” A positive attitude, reduced stress and strong connections to others can increase your resiliency and ability to cope.
You don’t have to be a comedian to experience the benefits of laughter. Most laughter is not generated by a joke, but rather everyday situations, warm gestures or heartfelt moments. If you do not experience laughter during your day, it is worth figuring out why.
There are many things you can do to ensure that laughter is a part of your healthy lifestyle, such as:
- Decorate your office space with a family photo, cartoon calendar or other things that make you laugh and feel good. Laughter at work can increase creative energy.
- Share a funny story or embarrassing moment with co-workers or friends. Laughter promotes positive relationships and may help to break the ice in some situations.
- Try humor, appropriately, to get your point across. Workplace humor also helps to facilitate change. People who laugh often tend to be more flexible and adaptable. Be aware of cultural differences and avoid hostile practical jokes which can increase stress.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. When we laugh at ourselves we are less rigid and more spontaneous. Humor also makes us less fearful of making mistakes and more confident about overcoming setbacks.
- Make time for fun and include your family. Join the kids in silly, made-up games. Schedule time to watch your favorite comedy.
- Spend time with friends or with those whom you share a healthy hobby. Participate in a book club or basketball league, where the top priority is enjoyment.
- Visit the greeting card aisle on your next trip to the grocery story. If a funny card makes you laugh, consider sending it to a friend.
By putting more laughter into your day, in addition to exercise and good nutrition, you can improve the quality of your life and it may help to protect against stress and disease.
Sources: The Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media, University of Maryland Medical Center, LifeWork Strategies EAP and Washington and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centers. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.