In the Family Way

Elvie Ancheta

Remember the times when you laughed so hard, your stomach hurt? The precious laughter episodes as we socialize with each other are pure magic. The flooding of happy hormones makes the good feelings last. Later, the episodic remembering of the comic details can still trigger the same result. Is laughter really the best medicine?

As it turns out, there are various scientific studies from reputable sources suggesting laughter is still the best medicine. The new science of psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how our state of mind affects our health. Research studies found that humor and exercise trigger similar body processes. Physical exercise and laughter increase the bodily production of good hormones such as endorphins and neurotransmitters with decreased level of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

Laughter, in a way, is an internal exercise that gives our body organs a good massage. As a direct result of laughter, researchers found that cells, which produce antibodies, increase in numbers. T-cells, which combat viruses, are activated and our natural killer cells increase in numbers and activity, ready for battle. Consequently, our body’s immune system functions more effectively.

Another study by a group of cardiologists suggests that laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect against heart attack. Laughter improves circulation to the inner muscle of the heart, though they are not really sure how. The report showed that people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations and generally laughed less, even in positive situations. This is an important implication in our society in which heart disease remains the number one killer.

Perhaps the future recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be laughter, in addition to exercise and eating right. It’s cheap medicine. We can learn from children. They laugh approximately every four minutes, while an average adult laugh maybe 15 times a day at best.

So start now. Figure out what tickles your funny bone. Rent a comedy movie and laugh your heart out. Listen to funny audio recordings while you’re stuck in traffic. Clip funny cartoons and collect them to share with others. Post it in Instagram. Make fun of your mistakes and fears. Call your friends and share some of your embarrassing moments. It could be cathartic. Give yourself permission to act silly sometimes. It’s contagious. Spread the benefit of laughter.

Researchers also found that fake laughter will cause the body to respond as though the laughter is real. If you’re feeling stressed, try to remember funny moments and just laugh it out. In a short while, you are laughing heartily for real.

It sounds psychotic, but it’s healthier. There are actually clinics throughout the world that are beginning to replace anti-depressant drugs and pain killers with a good barrel of laughs. They teach you how to make your own happy chemicals, so to speak. You may also have heard of the benefits of laughing yoga.

Today, notice the funny masks, the crazy hair, the birds, your pets, your kids and everything around you. They are natural comics. Open your eyes to the seemingly ordinary everyday things that can bring out laughter and good health despite the pandemic worries. Be a child!

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