Are you having a laugh?

Nurturing

LOVE THE LOLS Laughter has more benefits than many of us realise.


Mental Health
Jannah Walshe

Have you ever heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine? I cannot recommend it as the best medicine, but it certainly is good medicine. And I feel we don’t always give it the weight it deserves. This ‘medicine’ is effective, fast, freely available and easily accessible. Why not use it more?
When we think about the massive success of iconic comedy shows like Friends, The Simpsons and Mr Bean, we can see that laughter can play a huge part in human life. Anyone remember Candid Camera or You’ve Been Framed? And nowadays, enjoying these kinds of shows – or whatever it is that gets you giggling – helps to balance out the stresses of the seemingly endless bad-news cycle.  
When you laugh, your lungs fill with air, the diaphragm contracts, muscles in the face stretch, and abdominal muscles tighten, causing your pulse and blood pressure to rise. This is similar to how your body reacts when you exercise. It even provides a good workout for the heart.
Each time you laugh, you breathe more deeply. This sends more oxygen into your lungs and helps your heart pump oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. This increased oxygen promotes healthy cell growth and allows your organs to work more efficiently, which can all help you to feel your best.
Laughter also reduces your body’s stress chemicals, like cortisol and adrenaline, and it increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins. All of this is great for your mental health.
What’s more, laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working for us and enhances the effectiveness of our T cells (which are types of white cells). This means a stronger immune system and fewer of the physical effects of stress.
Laughing can even help turn a negative experience into a positive one and can brighten your mood for the rest of the day. Also, laughter connects us with others. People who spend relaxation time with friends and family members tend to laugh more. So, if you bring more laughter into your life, you feel the benefits but you can also help others around you to reap those benefits as well.
If you are looking to find a fun way to boost your mental and physical wellbeing, make time to enjoy something you find humorous, share a few jokes, try watching funny videos on YouTube with your friends, or go to see a funny movie or try a comedy club. Hanging out with your pet is a surprisingly good way to have a laugh. Or maybe even consider laughter yoga!
How about putting on your favourite songs and getting family or friends involved in dancing badly on purpose. Nothing unleashes silliness and laughter like an impromptu dance party.
Is there a friend that you are guaranteed to have a laugh with? Reach out to them, swap funny pictures, and reminisce on funny moment you have shared.
Laughter may not be a cure all, but don’t let the light-heartedness of having a good laugh stop you from seeing and experiencing the really worthwhile health benefits to be gained from it.

Jannah Walshe is a fully accredited psychotherapist, course facilitator and mental-health speaker based in Co Mayo. More information about Jannah can be found at www.jannahwalshe.ie.

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