The Science Behind the Laughter

By Shaun Brown,
updated on Jan 24, 2018

The Science Behind the Laughter

Instead of letting life’s problems get us down, wouldn’t it be nice if we could just laugh them off instead?

woman laughing

Often described as the key to a happy life, there are times when the thought of being able to have a good old chuckle seems like a total pipe dream. Enter the wonderful world of laughter therapy. Research stemming from the late 70s has shown it gives people a more hopeful outlook on life. As time has marched on, it has proved more and more popular as people look to find an alternative to traditional therapy, with both group and individual sessions available.

Sessions vary depending on the therapist, however most will include a variety of activities and exercises to help individuals get in touch with their inner desire to laugh. The best news is that laughter therapy can be beneficial to people of all ages, and particularly to those with mental health issues.

If you’re sitting there thinking that therapy isn’t for you despite the potential benefits, then never fear – simply finding ways to laugh in your everyday life could be enough to spark an upturn in both your physical and mental health.

Attending a stand-up comedy show is an excellent way to get you giggling, and with more and more comedians using their shows to tackle some of the most important topics within the world of mental health, getting yourself down to your local comedy club could offer you the chance to not only chuckle, but relate to the stories at the same time.

So here’s the big question – how can laughter therapy, or even just laughing in general, help? Well for one thing, it can help to reduce stress, as laughing on a regular basis produces increased levels of both serotonin and dopamine – chemicals that help to curb stress levels and stimulate certain pleasure centres of the brain. Research even suggests that merely anticipating a laugh is enough to help lower a variety of stress hormones, so a grin does go a long way to making you feel less stressed!

women laughing

Laughter also offers a plethora of other health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, improving your immune system and even offering a natural form of pain relief. Perhaps the most interesting benefit though is the fact that it can actually act as a mental stimulant, with studies suggesting that those of us who like a good giggle could actually perform better in certain tasks and tests. Whoever knew brain training could be so fun!

So what are you waiting for? Grab yourself tickets to a comedy show, book yourself in for a session of laughter therapy, or even just get in touch with that one friend who thrives on spouting out cringeworthy puns and dodgy one-liners. This may be all it takes to get you laughing and help you reap the rewards.

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