Heading into the Summer season of get-togethers with family and friends and BBQs got me to thinking. One of the best things about Summer is the laughter I hear. For some reason, the people I’m around just seem to laugh a little more at this time of year. And, when they’re not laughing, they’re definitely smiling. Maybe it’s the sunnier days. Maybe it’s the freedom that comes from being on a different schedule. Or, just maybe it’s the memories some of us have of a childhood chasing fireflies, playing kick-the-can and capture the flag and flashlight tag and the promise of that kind of freewheeling fun again in some other form.
According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter really is one of the best forms of medicine. A good laugh lightens our load mentally and induces physical changes in our bodies. Laughter can:
- Stimulate our bodies. Laughter enhances our intake of oxygen-rich air; stimulates our heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by our brain
- Activate and relieve our stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down our stress response, and it can increase and then decrease our heart rate and blood pressure. The best part? We’re left with a good, relaxed feeling
- Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and help relax out muscles which can help relieve stress
- Improve our immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect our body by bringing more stress into our systems and decreasing our immunity. Laughter and positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations and help us connect with other people
- Improve our mood. Laughter can help lessen depression and anxiety and may make us feel happier
Laughter is important. It's liberating. It's fun. It's energizing. It brings us together in ways that restore the soul. It's also when we let our guard down for just a bit and simply celebrate "being."
Join me in laughing more. Lighten up. Loosen up. Unwind. Curve up the corners of your mouth and soon you’ll find it hard to stop!