Sunday, September 15, 2013

Laughter; a powerful antidote

Humor is infectious and laughter is the best medicine - ever heard this?
­But laughter is not the same as humor; laughter is a physiological response to humor and is more than just a person's voice and movement. 

The understanding of how it affects the nervous system and rest of the body is study area of psychoneuroimmunology (combining methods and techniques of psychology, neuroscience and immunology) and the studies of the interactions between the brain and the immune system have shown evidences of how laughter relaxes the whole body (relieving physical tension and stress), boosts the immune system (decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies), triggers the release of endorphins (promoting an overall sense of well-being and even temporarily relieve of pain) and protects the heart (improving the function of blood vessels and increasing blood flow).

Paul Macgee, a pioneer in humor and laughter research says "“Humor and laughter are powerful tools humans have to make daily mood and emotional state support good health.”  The psychological benefits seem to be quite amazing; people often store negative emotions, such as anger, sadness and fear, rather than expressing them and laughter provides a way for these emotions to be harmlessly released. Laughter seems to be cathartic and when is shared, it binds people together, increasing happiness and intimacy.

With so much power, seems that laughter can be a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.