“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.” Dr. Seuss
We know that Christmas can be a chaotic and sometimes stressful time of year and one of nature’s best antidotes to bring us back to balance is the ability to look for and find laughter, humour and joy.
1 Fact – Laughter is Good for your Brain and Body
Research from too many universities to mention has shown that laughter reduces levels of cortisol, adrenaline and dopac (a brain chemical which helps produce adrenaline), increases levels of antibodies and human growth hormone that strengthen the immune system, and beta-endorphins that help alleviate depression.
1. Physically, laughter helps reduce blood pressure and increase blood flow to the heartand a hearty guffaw can help oxygenate the lungs.
Even more surprising is research from Dr. Lee Berk, of Loma Linda University, California that shows exactly the same physiological responses when we anticipate experiencing something funny so just thinking about it helps!
2. Laughter leaves us more relaxed, resistant to disease and with a more positive moodand outlook. It can increase our levels of optimism, decrease worry and makes us more open and friendlier. Being serious on the other hand has the opposite effect of closing us down, narrowing our focus and increasing our levels of pessimism.
3. From an evolutionary perspective, laughter is seen as the human equivalent of grooming in primates and denotes an environment of psychological safety. People are up to 30 times more likely to laugh in a group than when alone and one study showed that people can recognise the laughter of their friends without seeing them.
Laughter creates and deepens social bonds.
In addition laughter:-
- Deceases pain due to the release of endorphins
- Releases dopamine from the reward centre of our brain
- Is a universal language – every nationality laughs when they find something funny
- Is contagious. Our mirror neurons light up as we see someone else laugh so if you want to make someone laugh start laughing yourself
- Gives the brain a good workout as both hemispheres and the emotional and motor areas of our brain are all activated
10 Tips For Increasing your Laughter Intake
1. This holiday season catch up on any lost laughter. I (Clare) remember my Dad in absolute stitches over the Christmas break as he watched Laurel and Hardy and Tommy Cooper on the TV. Seek out funny films, videos of comedians or a comedy series and binge on chuckles!
2. If you’re in the UK, treat yourself to some terrible jokes (in addition to our handout gift) and go and see a Pantomime, we’re sure you’ll love it (“Oh no we won’t!!”)
3. If you’re in a hot country, make a ‘slip n slide’. If you don’t know what one is take a look at this creative Australian version video clip
4. Recall funny memories around the lunch or dinner table with friends and family
5. Consider trying laughter yoga
6. Visit a comedy club
7. Buy some funny games. One of the funniest I know is ‘Cards Against Humanity’ or even just the good old ‘guess who I am?’ post-it note game or snap!
8. If you’re struggling to find a laugh, find a smile, you’re on your way
9. Read a funny book. Click here to read about the funniest books authors have ever read
10. Receive our terrible jokes gift handout – you’ll either laugh or cry! Click here to download (with thanks to Trevor Silvester and Terri Cooper for some of the worst inclusions!)
11. Bonus tip – share this post so someone who might appreciate a smile or a laugh can receive it
“We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.” William James