When was the last time you had a good belly laugh? Not a chuckle, but laughter that made it difficult to breathe, your stomach and face hurt, and you were crying. There may have been some snorts in there for good measure.
One of my first jobs after college was an Associate Buyer position for a West Coast department store chain. One of my colleagues, and close friends at the time, was the Infant’s Buyer. We often traveled together to New York for business. Michael was hilarious. Literally everything that came out of his mouth was hysterical. He could make the most stressful, difficult situation immediately better by cracking a joke. Everyone loved Michael. On a connecting flight from Dallas to Sacramento, we were sitting in the back of the plane. It was late in the evening, and passengers were trying to sleep. Michael, in true form, had us laughing uncontrollably. The flight attendant had to tell us several times to be quiet, as we were so disruptive. When we finally landed, it was obvious the flight attendant and fellow passengers were relieved to have us off the aircraft. Unfortunately, in our giddy state, I forgot about the new pair of shoes I had placed under the seat. It wasn’t until I was unpacking the next morning, that I realized I had left my shoes on the plane. By then, the shoes were long gone. To this day, that memory makes me smile. Yes, I lost a pair of new shoes, but I had the best time laughing uncontrollably with a dear friend.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, belly laughs may be few and far between. However, more than ever, laughter is what is needed. You may have heard that laughter is the best medicine. Studies show that laughter is indeed good for your health. According to HelpGuide.org, there are many physical health benefits to laughter.
1) Laughter relaxes the entire body, releasing stress and anxiety. In fact, a good laugh can keep your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
2) Laughter boosts the immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.
3) Laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural, feel-good chemicals. Endorphins create an overall sense of well-being and have been known to temporarily relieve pain.
4) Laughter protects the heart by improving the function of blood vessels and increasing blood flow. This can help protect against heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
5) Laughter burns calories. One study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes per day can burn approximately 40 calories. This could be enough to lose 3 to 4 pounds over a year’s time. This should not give you an excuse to ditch your gym membership!
6) Laughter is one of the quickest ways to diffuse anger. It helps to put problems into perspective and reduce confrontations without holding onto bitterness and resentment.
7) Laughter may help you live longer. A study in Norway showed that people with a sense of humor outlived those who did not laugh often. This is especially true for individuals battling cancer.
In addition to physical health benefits, laughter has many mental health benefits.
1) Laughter adds joy to life.
3) Laughter relieves stress.
4) Laughter is a mood elevator.
5) Laughter strengthens resilience.
The next time you’re looking for a pick-me-up, or want to improve your overall health and wellness, watch your favorite comedy or listen to your favorite comedian. Better yet, find a Michael and share some uncontrollable laughter.