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Monday, December 12, 2016

7 Ways That Laughter Fuels the Mind, Body, and Soul

Photo by Ben Francis (Flickr)

Have you ever listened to kids laugh? It's hysterical! Hearing my girls laugh always makes me laugh, and their laughter prompted me to study the topic this week. I found seven ways laughter fuels our minds, bodies, and souls, helps children develop, and leads to grown-up happiness and success. Let's examine these seven ways together.

Laughter Reduces Stress

My stress level was through the roof last Wednesday as I juggled a large work project, a school conference, and a sick child. I felt miserable until a co-worker told a funny joke during lunch. I started laughing and instantly felt less stressed.

There's a reason I felt that way. Laughter is clinically recognized to affect four stress-related hormones: cortisol, dopamine, epinephrine, and growth hormone. Ultimately, it relieves tension and reduces stress. A good belly laugh does wonders for helping kids and adults manage stress successfully. I know it works for me!

Laughter Decreases Pain

As toddlers, my daughters fell often, which meant plenty of skinned knees and tears. To calm them, I told funny jokes and stories. Their laughter didn't completely erase their pain, but science shows that laughter does decrease pain. My girls were able to endure all of those skinned knees and even handle aches they feel today when they laugh.

Laughter Improves Respiration

One of my daughter's friends suffers from chronic asthma. Her mom frequently invites my daughter over for play dates because the girls always end up laughing. She knows that laughter stimulates our lungs and supporting muscles. As we breathe in oxygen-rich air during a fit of the giggles, our lungs expand, and respiration improves. My daughter's friend and anyone with breathing challenges can be healthier because of laughter.

Laughter Strengthens Relationships

According to researchers, we're 30 times more likely to laugh when we're in a group. I know I always laugh more at funny stories when I'm with other people. Laughter is infectious. It also erases age, culture, and demographic boundaries and helps us bond with friends, family, and strangers. I love how laughter strengthens interpersonal relationships, whether we're kids or adults.

Laughter Improves Coping Skills

Life is tough for kids and adults. Maybe your family is facing a challenge like difficult homework, family drama, or chronic illness. Laughter may be the key you need to cope. Humor helps us see things from a positive perspective and encourages us to stop taking ourselves so seriously. Laughter improves our ability to cope with challenges and be successful in life, so watch videos of animal antics, read the comics pages in the newspaper, and tell funny jokes every day.

Laughter Reduces Blood Pressure

At every doctor appointment, the nurse checks my girls' blood pressure. The numbers are usually pretty good, possibly because we laugh so much! Frequent laughter improves blood flow as it dilates blood vessels, increases oxygen intake, and improves blood circulation. Our risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack decreases when our blood pressure drops, and that's a compelling reason to laugh more often.

Laughter Boosts Immunity

My uncle experienced a health scare last year, and laughter was a tool that helped him recover. His doctors always told jokes and encouraged him to watch funny movies. Laughter played a role in healing my uncle because it boosts our immune systems. We get and stay healthier thanks to laughter.

Have you laughed yet today? For kids and adults, laughter provides many benefits as it fuels our mind, body, and soul, helps kids' development, and increases adult happiness and success. I encourage you to make laughter a regular part of your daily routine and see the ways it helps you and your family!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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