If you suffer from a mental illness such as depression, you’ll know that there may be days, or even weeks, when the last thing you feel like doing, is laughing. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have a sense of humor, it just means that your mood is too low to express it. While this is completely understandable, and indeed common, finding a way to get in a good laugh can help.
Laughter may not have the healing ‘powers’ that some claim it to have, but there can be no denying the fact that it releases endorphins in our brain and can lead to several health benefits. Here are a few facts about laughing, its effects upon our bodies and how it can help heal some mental illnesses:
What responses to laughter do our bodies display?
Please note that while these are typical responses to laughter, there are exceptions to every rule, and by no means is laughter a cure for every illness we may suffer from:
- A person’s levels of stress hormones are significantly decreased
- Our hearts, lungs and muscles are stimulated
- In some parts of the brain, such as the reward system, activity is significantly increased
- The body’s natural pain blockers, known as endorphins, are released when we laugh
What are some of the benefits of regular laughter?
Some scientific research has shown that when we laugh regularly, our immune systems become stronger and our overall mood generally improves. Anxiety can be alleviated, and our ability to interact with others may also improve. In research conducted on those who work full time, less burnout was reported in those who found time to find humor in their everyday lives, whether it be through watching funny movies, reading a funny book or simply exchanging jokes with friends, family and colleagues.
While we may not be able to say categorically that humor has a positive impact on our general well being and mental health, since most of us enjoy laughing, there are few reasons why we shouldn’t at least give it a go. Here are a few tips for incorporating more humor into your life:
- Find a movie or TV show that really makes you laugh, and watch it whenever you’re feeling particularly low
- Go online and find any number of funny videos, stand-up routines and gags that are guaranteed to make you chortle
- Reach out to someone who shares your sense of humor and chat together about any funny things that have happened to either of you recently
- Give Laughter Yoga a go
- Try to spend some time with kids or animals, as there is rarely a dull moment where they’re involved, and laughter is often a given!
Please know that if you’re struggling to find the humor in anything right now, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional. Laughter is not the cure for everything, and while many find it does help improve their mood, sometimes a little help from a caring therapist goes a long way.