Think back to some of the most joyful times in your life. Chances are, it involved smiling. If you were with other people, it probably involved laughing. Laughing acts like a glue to promote positive social bonding. Plus, it feels delightful and spreads happiness. Even when life gets difficult, it can be healing and inspiring to let ourselves laugh.
Adopt: Why You Should Laugh Every Day for Wellness
It feels good to laugh and have fun. Need more convincing?
Multiple recent studies are looking at how laughter may help improve your mood, outlook, and even health. So far the results are making many people smile with optimism. Laughter yoga is associated with improved health and well-being for student nurses (Yazdani, Esmaeilzadeh, Pahlavanzadeh, & Khaledi, 2014). Because student nurses are under stress in an intense academic program as part of an emotionally demanding career, it may be beneficial for people in other high stress jobs. It also improves the mood of patients undergoing stressful procedures, like hemodialysis (Bennett et al., 2015). While it may not cure the problem, it seems to reduce overall suffering related to such medical problems (Bennett et al., 2014). Using laughter therapy with the elderly can reduce rates of depression (Shaw, 2013). Elderly persons who engage in laughter therapy also have an increase overall life satisfaction (Deshpande & Verma, 2013). It may even be associated with reducing dermatitis in patience with breast cancer who are receiving radiation treatment (Kong, Shin, Lee, & Yun, 2014).
If laughter can help people heal and feel joyful, even during times of intense stress in life, perhaps it can help you too.
Adapt: Add Laughter to Your Day Any Way You Can
Laughter is closed tied with humor, and humor varies from person to person. Don’t just assume that you don’t have a sense of humor if you haven’t found what makes you giggle. For some people, watching political humor on television is ideal. Other people prefer slap-stick comedies. Readers can read funny stories. Movie-lovers can choose from the long list of comedy flicks. If you love the night-life scene, go to a comedy club. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even try joining an improv class.
Surround yourself with people who have a similar sense of humor. If you have a friend who often leaves you smiling, call them. If you don’t feel connected comedically to anyone yet, join some humor-focused interest groups. Look for opportunities to tell jokes, even if it’s to your goldfish.
Attach: Add Funny Moments to Routines You Already Have
If you normally start your day with a somber report of the news, try adding some humorous news or satire to your morning shows. If you read the news, actively add comics and funny stories to your news feed or remind yourself to check out the “funnies” section of the newspaper. If you work in a place with humor-friendly co-workers, consider starting some comedic traditions, such as good-spirited practical jokes (just make sure they are laughing at it too). At the end of your day, you can slow down with a funny story or glance through some light-hearted social media posts.
Remember: Wellness Habits Are the Foundation of a Life of Well-Being
Bennett, P. N., Parsons, T., Ben-Moshe, R., Neal, M., Weinberg, M. K., Gilbert, K., … Hutchinson, A. M. (2015). Intradialytic Laughter Yoga therapy for haemodialysis patients: a pre-post intervention feasibility study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-015-0705-5
Bennett, P. N., Parsons, T., Ben-Moshe, R., Weinberg, M., Neal, M., Gilbert, K., … Hutchinson, A. (2014). Laughter and humor therapy in dialysis. Seminars in Dialysis, 27(5), 488–493. https://doi.org/10.1111/sdi.12194
Deshpande, A., & Verma, V. (2013). Effect of laughter therapy on happiness and life satisfaction among elderly. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(1), 153.
Kong, M., Shin, S. H., Lee, E., & Yun, E. K. (2014). The effect of laughter therapy on radiation dermatitis in patients with breast cancer: a single-blind prospective pilot study. OncoTargets and Therapy, 7, 2053. https://doi.org/10.2147/OTT.S72973
Shaw, A. (2013). Does laughter therapy improve symptoms of depression among the elderly population? PCOM Physician Assistant Studies Student Scholarship. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.pcom.edu/pa_systematic_reviews/125
Yazdani, M., Esmaeilzadeh, M., Pahlavanzadeh, S., & Khaledi, F. (2014). The effect of laughter Yoga on general health among nursing students. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 19(1), 36–40.