It’s no joke that laughter has serious benefits. Let’s honor this week’s high-spirited holiday!
Did you know that January 2 is Global Belly Laugh Day? No joke! Did you know that laughing is beneficial to your health? Seriously! How would you like a stronger immune system, more energy and less pain? How about bolstering your positive outlook and enhancing your connections with people? These are just a handful of laughter's many benefits. Let’s honor this week’s high-spirited holiday by celebrating the chuckle!
Humans are hardwired for humor. Laughter predates language, and infants giggle from birth. Not everyone can be an Olympic hurdler, nor can everyone be a stand-up comedian. But everybody can (and should) laugh.
If you’re having trouble sticking with your 2013 exercise routine, here’s some happy news: Maciej Buchowski, a researcher from Vanderbilt University, found that people burn an average of 50 calories when they laugh for 10-15 minutes. But don’t substitute laughter for working out: bring your sense of humor to the gym. In addition to the calories burned during that 15-minute bout of belly-aching laughter, you’ll also increase your pain tolerance by 10%. That’s not all: A hearty laugh relieves physical tension and can provide muscle relaxation for up to 45 minutes. Laughter also decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells, improving resistance to disease.
We all know that laughter feels good. That’s because while you’re laughing, anxiety and anger fade away. Laughter increases creativity, optimism and energy. It elevates mood, self-esteem and resilience. Laughter can provide hope and courage during difficult times. It’s also known to be contagious, and it has many social benefits, including: stronger bonds between family and friends and enhanced teamwork.
Indian physician Madan Kataria pioneered Laughter Yoga, a practice that combines yogic breathing with unconditional laughter. Dr. Clifford C. Kuhn (aka the Laugh Doctor) uses the healing power of humor in his patented HA HA HA Prescription and the Ten Commandments of Fun. Dr. Paul McGhee, president of The Laughter Remedy, pioneered research for humor in the healthcare setting. “Mirthologist” Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D incorporates humor in his psychology practice. Nurse Patty Wooten has made a living for more than 20 years studying and sharing how humor and laughter provide therapeutic benefits.
If Ph.Ds and MDs aren't enough, take a cue from your kids. Children laugh easily and solve their problems through play. Psychology professor Robert Provine found that babies laugh 300 times a day compared to adults who laugh only 20 times. The stresses and responsibilities of adulthood can take a toll on laughter, but only if you let them. Learn to incorporate laughter in your life. Start by asking the experts.
Laughing is often a spontaneous reaction, but you can set up situations that increase the likelihood for laughter. Here are some suggestions.
Happy Belly Laugh Day!