Well, many times it can! Let’s take a look at what happens when you laugh and laugh hard.
Laughter stimulates your circulation. Not unlike Yoga, the deep breathing and “internal massage of organs” resulting from laughter enhances breathing, increases the release of endorphins, (our feel good chemicals) and stimulates the heart, lungs and other major muscle groups, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A good laugh—whether at a joke or as an exercise, (more about that later), first activates and then releases the stress response down. Stress chemicals decrease and the relaxation response increases.
From personal experience I can verify that laughter eases pain. It turns on the body’s production of natural painkillers! Several years ago, when I was presenting a Laughing for the Health of It program to a group of about 50 people, I found that the pain in my newly pinned broken wrist decreased markedly and stayed reduced for many hours after the program. Made me smile and laugh even more. Off to sleep with no pain medication. I also find that when I’m hurting, physically or emotionally, starting with a smile and advancing to a chuckle and then to a laugh almost always relaxes the muscles and pain. Some studies show that when we laugh stress hormones, such as cortisol, are decreased while relaxation chemicals, such as endorphins, are increased.
Laughter can certainly be a mood booster. When you are in a down mood, watching a short video of people laughing, or one that makes you laugh can really give you a boost. I had a client who was depressed. During a phone conversation with him I made him laugh three times. After the third time he yelled at me to “stop that”!! When I next saw him I asked what was with the need to stop laughing. He replied that laughing “ruins a good depression.” Changed the entire course of his therapy with positive, long-term results for him. Can’t promise you the same results but laughter is free and easily available.
I do Laughter Wellness programs in senior living facilities both for residents and for staff development, (also helpful in corporations in many ways), with clients in my private practice, at home parties, and more. On religious retreats and in synagogues and churches of all types we “Laugh for the Sake of Heaven” opening our hearts to each other. Some of the responses to this type of laughter have been: “thank you, Irene. Tonight you put a smile on my heart and I really needed that.” “Laughing with you and then talking about Principles of Good Hearted Living has turned my focus to gratitude, and off of complaining. Can’t believe how good I feel right now”
One exercise I do often is to put my clown nose on. If I wake up in a crummy mood, on goes the clown nose as I look in the mirror. Even if I just grimace at myself, raising my lips smile-like changes our brain chemistry and leads to smiles and chuckles changing the mood at least a little bit. I use them in the car as well. Stuck in traffic? On goes the clown nose as I look left and right, wave and smile. People look at me like I’m crazy, but horn honking decreases and I see people laughing in their cars.
Greeting kids coming home from school with a clown nose on, or a handshake and laughingly saying aloha, ha,ha,ha also takes them by surprise and lightens what might have been a tough day for them. So what if they think you’ve lost it.
Laughter also gives us a positive way to connect with others—as long as we are laughing with each other and not at each other. Laughing together changes moods and lives. Remember: It’s not what we go through that determines our lives as much as it is How We Come Through.”
I’m interested in your experiences with laughter. Post a comment, ask a question. To learn some other techniques for stimulating healthy mirthful laughter contact me and visit me on Facebook. Email me at Irene@twinklewrinkle.com or call me 610-783-6060 Ext. 2
And remember, you can be in any mood you want to be in—just decide how long you want to be in it. Wishing you a Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha, Ha day.