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How Does Laughter Improve Your Mood

By: Loveli Brown

Laughter is a natural and powerful mood booster that can make us feel better in many ways.

Research shows that children laugh about 400 times a day, but adults on average laugh only about 15 times.

Here are ten ways that laughter can improve your mood:

  1. Laughter releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the body that promote feelings of pleasure and well-being.

  2. Laughter helps to reduce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can have a negative impact on our mood.

  3. Laughter can help to improve our immune system, which can help us feel better physically and mentally.

  4. Laughter can improve our social connections and relationships, which can boost our mood and overall happiness.

  5. Laughter can help us to gain a new perspective on things, which can help us to feel more positive and optimistic.

  6. Laughter can improve our creativity and problem-solving skills, which can help us to feel more empowered and in control.

  7. Laughter can help to relieve pain and discomfort, which can have a positive impact on our mood and overall well-being.

  8. Laughter can help us to relax and unwind, which can reduce feelings of anxiety and tension.

  9. Laughter can improve our self-esteem and confidence, which can help us to feel more positive and self-assured.

  10. Laughter can simply make us feel happy and joyful, which can improve our mood and overall quality of life.

Interesting facts about laughter:

• Did you know humans are not the only species who can laugh? And no, I’m not talking about the animals that you see in cartoons either. A recent study showed that nearly 65 other species also have their own form of laughter. A researcher at UCLA studies the sounds of other animals, and while they may not sound exactly like human laughter, they do something similar to laughter. These are called play vocalizations. These vocal sounds emitted from the animals in the study show that when animals are tickled, they may produce laughter-like audio (Winkler & Bryant, 2021). 

• Anthropologists and psychologists have argued that the purpose of laughing in early humans was to signal to other members of the group that they were safe from harm. Think back to the hunter-gatherer days when life was often nomadic and environments around groups of humans were constantly changing. Perhaps they lived among animals that preyed on humans or in areas that posed environmental threats to safety. Evolutionary studies later expanded on the idea that laughter was emitted during relaxation, which was why our modern-day human brains laugh when we are amused, relaxed, or find something funny (Provine, 2001). 

• Laughter in Relationships. Did you know that you and your partner are more likely to stay together if you laugh with each other? Laughter can strengthen your relationship, elongate your partnership with your romantic partner(s), and increase satisfaction (Kurtz & Algoe, 2015). 

• World Record for Laughing. Didn’t think there would be a world record for this category? Think again. The world record for longest consistent laughing was 3 hours and 47 minutes which was broken by a man named Rajendra Kumar in India (Golden Book of World Records, 2022). That’s a lot of laughing, huh? 

• Laughter and Burning Calories? No way laughing burns calories, right? Well, some researchers at Vanderbilt University argue that 15 minutes of laughing a day can burn up to 40 calories a day (Buchowski et al., 2007). Doesn’t hurt to try right? 

• Does Humor Cause Laughter? Well of course it can. However, laughter is not always linked to something funny. Research suggests that laughter is more closely linked to social interactions than hearing a joke (Provine, 2001). 

• Laughter and Endorphins. When we laugh, our body releases endorphins, and endorphins can release dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (or happiness hormone) that can help improve our mood. 

• Laughter as a Stress Reliever. Have you ever felt stressed and taken a break from work to turn on a funny TV show? Turns out, laughing is a natural way to de-stress, which not only makes us feel happier and less stressed but can improve feelings of depression and anxiety as well. 

• Laughter and Tension. We all know life comes with its stressors and sometimes we can hold that stress in our bodies. If you feel your shoulders feeling heavy or your lower back aching, it could be because stress can lead to muscle tension. However, research suggests that laughter can alleviate tension and help relax our muscles. 

• Laughter and Heart Health. Laughing often can improve cardiovascular health as it increases blood flow to the heart. When our cardiovascular health improves, we can also lower the risk of heart disease and heart attack (which of course, is just one factor of heart health). ​

Facts About Laughter Therapy

You might know that various forms of therapy exist, such as talk therapy, pet therapy, and art therapy. But did you know laughter is a form of therapy too? Here are some facts about laughter therapy. 

• What is Laughter Therapy? Laughter therapy is most often used for elderly patients or those of us who may be struggling with severe illnesses, such as cancer. Now that we know laughter has its own health benefits, intentionally using laughter as a therapy method encourages patients to help themselves relieve emotional pain and stress. This type of therapy often uses jokes, funny movies, and laughing exercises to elicit an emotional laughing response (Ko & Youn, 2011). 

• Laughter Improves Life Satisfaction. Laughter not only can help release pain but can improve life satisfaction. In a study about laughter therapy with seniors, research suggested that laughing can lower feelings of loneliness and improve general well-being in life (Deshpande & Verma, 2013). ​

Babies Laughter

So, what really makes babies laugh? “My one-word answer is ‘people,’” Addyman says. “If you want to make it two words, it’s ‘adult attention.’ Or, ‘human connection.’” Take peekaboo, for instance: compared to other games, such as making funny noises or using puppets, it is, he explains, “pure social interaction — it really is about the eye contact and the connection with the baby.” As anyone who’s played peekaboo knows, the key moment is when, as Addyman puts it, “you come back into eye contact with them, and the fact you’re keeping the game going is delightful and causes them to laugh.” The baby’s laughter is their way of sharing and rewarding you for this prolonged attention. “They’re having a conversation with you,” he says.

TED Talk: Laughter Yoga by Liliana DeLeo ​

Here are some facts about laughter yoga, a method of yoga popularized by Madan Kataria in the 1990s (Kataria, 2020).  

• Prolonged Voluntary Laughter. You may be thinking that when you laugh, you usually do it involuntarily—which essentially means that you don’t think about laughing intentionally, it just sort of happens. You’re not wrong. Laughter yoga, however, uses what’s called prolonged voluntary laughter, which forces you to laugh. 

• Laughter Yoga and Immunity. Forcing ourselves to laugh can decrease cortisol levels, boost the lymphatic system, and thus improve our immune system. ​

Check out this funny video!

• Did you know that there’s an ideal number of words in a joke? The correct answer is 103. 

• Research shows that children laugh about 400 times a day, but adults on average laugh only about 15 times.

So, the next time you're feeling down or stressed, try to find something to laugh about and see how it can improve your mood and make you feel better!

"Being able to articulate your feelings, wants, needs, and desires is the best way to advocate for yourself. This all starts with a conversation". Loveli xoxo



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