The results of a five year study into whether ultrasound therapy can speed up the healing of leg ulcers has determined that laughter is actually a more beneficial treatment. In fact, there are plenty of overall health benefits of laughter.
The study, which was conducted at the University of Leeds’ School of Healthcare and published in the British Medical Journal, concluded that ultrasound therapy had little impact on those suffering from long term leg ulcers, but that treatments which increased blood flow and circulation, including laughter, were very beneficial.
The study leader, Professor Andrea Nelson stated that “The key to care with this group of patients is to stimulate blood flow back up the legs to the heart. The best way to do that is with compression bandages and support stockings – not ‘magic wands’ – coupled with advice on diet and exercise. Believe it or not, having a really hearty chuckle can help too. This is because laughing gets the diaphragm moving and this plays a vital part in moving blood around the body.”
Other Health Benefits of Laughter
First let’s take a look at the physical benefits of laughter. A good laugh can help to relax the muscles in the body, and can keep them relaxed for almost an hour. This can help to relieve the tension associated with back, neck, and joint problems.
Laughter can boost the immune system by releasing antibodies and reducing stress related hormones, making you more resistant to disease and infection. Endorphins are released during laughter and as well as improving your sense of wellbeing, they can act as a natural form of pain relief. Finally, as we’ve seen with the leg ulcer study, laughter can improve the blood circulation and maintain blood vessel health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and speeding up healing.
Secondly laughter has a number of benefits for your mental health. It helps you to maintain a positive viewpoint throughout difficult periods in your life. Even in the worst of times laughter can help you to find new sources of hope and enjoyment. Having a good laugh reduces negative emotions such as anger or sadness, and it gives you more energy to deal with everyday life. It can also change your perspective; things that seem frightening or threatening will always seem easier to cope with after a good laugh.
Finally laughter has a great number of social benefits. Laughing with another person creates a strong emotional bond and helps to prevent negative feelings and disagreements that can’t be resolved. Laughter is a wonderful way to unite people during difficult times and to dissolve disputes and misunderstandings.
Relationships benefit greatly from shared laughter and there’s nothing more contagious than a good laugh. Sharing laughter helps you to express your feelings, be more spontaneous, be less defensive, and release your inhibitions.
How to Bring the Health Benefits of Laughter Into Your Life
It’s one thing to list the health benefits of laughter, but how exactly do we go about bringing more laughter into our lives? These five tips should help you increase you laughter quota and reap the benefits that come with it.
- When you hear laughter try to move towards it. We’ve already mentioned how infectious laughter is and most people are happy to tell you what they’re finding so funny. Shared laughter is the best laughter of all.
- Look for absurdity in everyday life. Do you remember those situations you found hilariously funny when you were a child but you couldn’t explain to adults why you were laughing? Those occasions are still just as funny if you look for them. Don’t forget to laugh at yourself if you do something silly rather than getting angry or frustrated.
- Most people know someone that just makes them laugh. They may not be a stand-up comedian or the life and soul of the party but for some reason you just click, and you spend your time together in fits of giggles. Schedule in time to spend with that person; it will do you both good. Remember that spending time with children is a guaranteed way to enjoy a good laugh.
- Playtime often equals laughter and sadly as adults we don’t take enough time to play. Whether you get out the board games, head for the playground in your local park, arrange to go bowling, splash around in the swimming pool, or have a go at karaoke, playtime is a great source of laughter.
- Watching funny movies or comedy shows is guaranteed to have you crying with laughter and will help you balance out the violence and disaster we so often see on the television these days. Make sure the last thing you watch during the day is something that makes you laugh rather than something that makes you sad or angry.
Laughter is a wonderful way to improve our physical and mental health and to foster better social relationships, and what’s more it’s absolutely free! Make some time to bring laughter back into your life and you’ll feel the benefits right away.