I am a firm believer in the power of laughter, especially when trying to fight against the negative effects of stress. Stress is everywhere, some of it is even good for you.
When the not-so-good stress hits repeatedly and the body is not given an opportunity to recover from it, a condition known as chronic stress is developed.
Studies have indicated untreated chronic stress leads to a variety of mental and physical issues, including depression, anxiety, weakened immune system, heart disease, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and countless more ailments and diseases (APA, 2015).
According to The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2015), chronic diseases are responsible for approximately seven out of every ten deaths in the United States. Nothing to laugh about there, right?
Not really, but those harsh facts are the best reasons ever to find ways to laugh on a regular basis, as well as learning how to manage the chronic stress that is likely making you sick.
Laughter is my main focus as a stress management consultant and there are several reasons. First and foremost, it is free.
You do not have to pay someone else in order to have a good laugh. Second, and really this is more like a tie for first, there are actual physical and emotional benefits from laughter, no joke! Laughter has both short-term and long-term effects on the body and mind.
The immediate effects of laughter activate and relieve the stress response, the intake of oxygen during laughter stimulates internal organs, and the relieving of the stress response leaves one with a euphoric feeling (Mayo Clinic, 2013).
If that is not reason enough to start laughing today, the long-term effects should tickle you. The long-term effects are a direct result of the immediate effects of laughter.
Controlling the stress response, increasing the intake of oxygen-rich air, and releasing endorphins in the brain lead to effective management of stress.
The immune system can strengthen, one’s overall mood can improve, pain can be eased, and personal satisfaction with life can be increased all with the power of laughter.
Of course the only way to prove me wrong is by trying it. So go ahead, bring laughter into your life intentionally and on a regular basis. Have a good, hard, belly laugh — the kind that leaves your cheeks and ribs sore and a tears in your eyes — at least once a day.
Try it for a month. If, after a month of laughing every day, you do not feel the positive effects, then come back here and tell us. That is my challenge to everyone who is dealing with more stress than they care to mention!
There is no excuse not to try either, because if you are reading this article you have access to absolutely every type of humor you can imagine right at your finger tips. Slapstick, gross-out, stand-up, improve; whatever makes you laugh, all you have to do is type it in the search bar of your browser.
It is that easy! As a parent you will also be modeling healthy stress management for your children on a level they will readily understand, and who doesn’t like that?