Doctors in the United States see more cases of stress-related illnesses than anything else. From low immunity to heart disease and cancer, stress causes a disruption in your body’s normal function, which can prevent you from living life to the fullest. But if stress is a poison, laughter may be the antidote.
Simply put, stress is tension. When you think about stress, imagine a slack piece of string. Stress pulls the ends away from each other until there is no slack left. When you are under stress, your body secretes hormones that cause your muscles to tense, or contract, ensuring they are ready for action. Sometimes called the “fight or flight” response, when stressed your body is in a state of “bring it on!” When you are constantly under stress, your body has little time or energy for relaxation, which is when most of your cells’ healing and repairs occur.
When you laugh, you release chemicals that combat stress and depression. Studies show that just anticipating a humorous situation, such as a comedy or an evening out with friends, increases your levels of beta-endorphins and human growth hormone, two chemicals that counteract the stress hormones. Additionally, the act of laughing increases the amount of oxygen to your cells and muscles, helping to release tension and increasing blood flow.
There’s even a recent trend towards incorporating laughter into your daily routine. Called “laughter yoga,” simply making silly faces at each other and imitating laughter can benefit your mind, body and emotions. If stress is the toxin that sucks the life out of you, laughter is the medicine that restores health to your bones. If you are suffering from a stress disorder in Rochester, see how laughter can help. Maybe that’s why you have a funny bone instead of a bummer bone.