Laughter, Good for Body, Mind & Society II:
4 Psychological Benefits of Laughter
The study of laughter is no joking matter. After reading only a few articles, I have become amazed at the research I didn’t have time to read. The studies go back decades. What I presented last week is merely a fraction of the work recorded by doctors, scientists and other researchers. Not only are there physical benefits, but there are also benefits to our mental health. Today I will be sharing those with you.
- We feel happier – When we laugh the brain releases endorphins. Endorphins have several functions from fighting stress and disease to giving us a sense of euphoria, a feel-good effect. The June 2017 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience logged a study by British and Finnish researchers found that “social laughter led to pleasurable feelings and significantly increased the release of endorphins.”
- Reduces stress – A 2006 study conducted by Lee Berk at Loma Linda University “found that simply anticipating a mirthful laughter experience boosted health-protecting hormones.“Earlier research had shown that “two hormones – beta-endorphins (the family of chemicals that alleviates depression) and human growth hormone (HGH; which helps with immunity) – increased by 27 and 87 percent respectively.”
- Reduces Pain – Maia Szalavitz, a neuroscientist journalist, cited in 2011 a study conducted by Dr. Roger Dunbar of Oxford University. His findings showed that “viewing or participating in comedy led to higher pain tolerance, the researchers found, and there was a dose-related response to laughter: people who laughed more felt less pain later.”
- Increases Self Esteem – A 2015 study in Korea concluded that cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment can benefit from laughter therapy, positively improving, in a clinical setting, mood states and self-esteem.
The study of laughter has long been a serious subject. Research has been conducted not only in clinical settings but other venues as well. Each time, laughter was proven to be beneficial. Since my focus is on seniors, I should probably state that laughter, in numerous studies, has been found as a positive tool for seniors to cope with challenges often associated with aging. Young or old, laughter is good for you. You can’t laugh at the research, except to feel good.