Are you feeling a bit stressed out lately? Maybe you’re in need of a good laugh!
As the brilliant Bo Burnham once said, “Laughter is the best medicine, y’know, besides medicine.”
How right he is! According to the legendary Mark Twain, “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” Not only does laughing make us feel good, but it also has numerous health benefits. As Wilferd Peterson put it, “Laughter is the best medicine for a long and happy life. He who laughs lasts!” And even the hilarious Stephen Colbert agrees, claiming that “It’s an entire regime of antibiotics and steroids.” It’s safe to say that laughter truly is the best medicine out there! In fact, the wise Maya Angelou once said, “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”
So, let’s dive into the world of laughter and find out why it’s so important to incorporate into our daily lives!
When people find something hilarious or enjoyable, they usually have a physical reaction called laughter. The result is a sound that is frequently referred to as a “laugh,” produced by repetitive, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm and other muscles in the body. Positive feelings like happiness, joy, and amusement are also connected to laughter.
Effects on facial muscles
The facial muscles can respond favorably to laughter. The risorius muscle at the corner of the lips, the zygomaticus major muscle around the mouth, and the orbicularis oculi muscle around the eyes all contract when we laugh. Together, these muscles create the laugh-related facial expressions that we are all familiar with.
The physiological and facial changes brought on by laughter were studied by Kajimura and Nomura (2016). They discovered that laughing boosted facial muscle activity, especially the orbicularis oculi and zygomaticus major muscles, and enhanced facial blood flow.
The effects of laughter activities, such as laughter yoga, on facial muscles and aging were investigated by Menezes and Pandya in 2011. They made the hypothesis that laughing exercises could assist tonify and strengthen the face muscles, reducing the appearance of aging.
Both studies suggest that laughter may have positive effects on the facial muscles, improving muscle tone, and circulation.
Other research findings
There are numerous psychological and physical advantages to laughing. For instance, Bennett et al. (2003) discovered that laughter that is mirthful or cheerful was linked to increases in natural killer cell activity, which is involved in the immunological response of the body. According to research by Berk et al. (1989), laughing can lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol and boost levels of endorphins and other neuropeptides that can lessen pain.
Laughter decreased tension and anxiety by lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to a different study by Miller et al. (2009). Similar findings were made by Lee et al. (2011) who discovered that laughing helped hypertension patients lower their blood pressure.
As demonstrated by Martin et al. (2003), who created the Humor Styles Questionnaire to evaluate various types of humor and their relationship to well-being, and Pressman et al. (2013), who discovered that positive emotional experiences, including laughter, can improve immune function in patients with HIV, laughing can also improve psychological well-being and social relationships in addition to these physical advantages.
Laughter has advantageous social consequences.
A study by Provine (1996) found that laughing is more frequently elicited by social interactions than by solitary activities, indicating that it helps people form bonds with one another.
Dunbar et al. (2012) found in another study that laughing enhances group bonds by synchronizing participant brain activity.
Types of Laughter
Laughter is a complex social behavior that can take on many different forms, each with its own unique characteristics and communicative functions. Here are some of the most common types of laughter and what they might signify:
1. Genuine Laughter:
Also known as spontaneous or natural laughter, genuine laughter is the type of laughter that occurs when something is genuinely funny or enjoyable. It’s characterized by a relaxed, open-mouthed expression, and a sound that’s often described as hearty or full. Genuine laughter is a sign of positive emotions such as happiness, joy, and amusement, and is associated with a number of physical and psychological benefits.
2. Polite Laughter:
Polite laughter is a type of laughter that people use to be polite or to show that they’re paying attention. It’s often characterized by a closed-mouthed smile, and a sound that’s more like a chuckle or giggle than a full belly laugh. Polite laughter can be a sign of politeness or good manners, but it can also indicate discomfort or boredom.
3. Nervous Laughter:
Nervous laughter is a type of laughter that people use in uncomfortable or stressful situations. It’s often characterized by a forced, high-pitched sound and a tense, closed-mouthed expression. Nervous laughter can be a sign of anxiety or fear, and can be used as a coping mechanism to diffuse tension or make a difficult situation more bearable.
4. Sarcastic Laughter:
Sarcastic laughter is a type of laughter that people use to convey sarcasm or irony. It’s often characterized by a mocking, exaggerated tone and a closed- mouthed expression. Sarcastic laughter can be a sign of negative emotions such as anger or resentment, and can be used to express disapproval or skepticism.
Laughter is a complex social behavior that can take on many different forms, each with its own unique communicative function. Understanding the different types of laughter and the context in which they occur can help us to better interpret and respond to the social clues of those around us.
Finally, keep in mind that laughter is the finest medicine if you want to improve your health, relationships, and general sense of wellbeing. Thus, feel free to laugh out loud occasionally, watch that hilarious “Akrobeto” video, relate that senseless joke and don’t be afraid to let out a good belly laugh every now and then. Your friends and family, as well as your facial muscles, will appreciate it and thank you.
Just be careful not to laugh in inappropriate situations, like during a funeral or when your boss is giving you negative feedback.
Aside these, then, laugh away and enjoy all the benefits that come with it!
The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It is important to seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional for any medical or diet concerns or questions. The content in this article should not be used as a substitute for professional medical/dietician advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The author does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided and will not be liable for any errors or omissions, or any actions taken based on the information provided. By accessing this article, you acknowledge and agree that the author will not be held responsible for any actions you may take based on the information provided on this write-up. It is your responsibility to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any actions related to your health.
My articles serve an educational and informational purpose only, and should not be considered medical advice for treatment. The primary goal is to provide the public with evidence-based and scientifically proven naturopathic therapies in order to educate and inform.
The writer has a Bsc. Health Services Administration from the University of Ghana, Mini-MBA in Complementary & Alternative Healthcare Leadership, Professional Certificate in Naturopathic Medicine, and a Professional Diploma in Medical Journalism from the Nyarkotey University College of Holistic Medicine & Technology (NUCHMT). He also has a COTVET accredited Body Massage Certificate. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bennett, M. P., Zeller, J. M., Rosenberg, L., & McCann, J. (2003). The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 9(2), 38-45.
Berk, L. S., Tan, S. A., Fry, W. F., Napier, B. J., Lee, J. W., Hubbard, R. W., & Lewis, J. E. (1989). Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 298(6), 390-396.
Dunbar, R. I., Baron, R., Frangou, A., Pearce, E., van Leeuwen, E. J., Stow, J., & Partridge, G. (2012). Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1731), 1161-1167.
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Miller, M., Fry, W. F., & Groening, G. (2009). The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 15(1), 25-28.
Provine, R. R. (1996). Laughter. American Scientist, 84(1), 38-45.
Ruch, W., Heintz, S., & Platt, T. (2014). The multifaceted nature of humor and laughter. Humor, 27(4), 499-514.
Kajimura, S., & Nomura, M. (2016). Facial and physiological changes following laughter. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 35(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40101-016-0108-2
Menezes, A. R., & Pandya, P. (2011). Laughter: An effective exercise to tone facial muscles and decrease signs of aging. Journal of Medical Hypotheses, 76(5), 648-649. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2011.01.047
Bennett, M. P., Zeller, J. M., Rosenberg, L., & McCann, J. (2003). The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 9(2), 38-45.
Berk, L. S., Tan, S. A., Fry, W. F., Napier, B. J., Lee, J. W., Hubbard, R. W., & Lewis, J. E. (1989). Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter. American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 298(6), 390-396.
Lomaestro, M. A., & Hammond, J. (2012). Managing hypertension using laughter therapy. Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 14(10), 729-731.
Martin, R. A., Puhlik-Doris, P., Larsen, G., Gray, J., & Weir, K. (2003). Individual differences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: Development of the Humor Styles Questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality, 37(1), 48-75.
Pressman, S. D., Gallagher, M. W., Lopez, S. J., & Bukszar, J. (2013). Can positive emotional experiences improve immune function in patients with HIV? Some preliminary findings. Psychosomatic Medicine, 75(5), 385-392.