Laughter Is Good Medicine
October 20, 2021
You know that laughing makes you feel better, right? There are actually facts to prove it. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, improving your resistance to disease. Endorphins are released when we laugh. Endorphins natural feel-good chemicals promote an overall sense of well-being and temporary pain relief.
Laughter can also keep you healthy, according to the Mayo Clinic. Research has found both short and long-term benefits: Laughter can increase oxygen to the heart, lungs, and muscles, increase the endorphins that are released by your brain, improve your mood, and reduce physical pain. Writer Norman Cousins was battling a crippling disease 50 years ago and watched “Candid Camera,” Marx Brothers, and other funny films and found that 10 minutes of deep belly laughter gave him two hours of pain-free sleep. “Each patient carries his own doctor inside him,” he wrote in his 1979 bestseller.
God’s prescription for health includes laughter. Laughter comes from making the decision to laugh every day; yes, that’s right—you have to take laughter seriously! 😊
Laughter increases blood flow. As your blood flow increases, your stress hormones and blood pressure go down, and your immune system is activated. That’s why Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV) says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” Poor blood flow increases inflammation, which is central to many health issues.
When you exercise and laugh, you are increasing blood flow to the brain—facilitating God’s healing mechanism and preventing disease. It can be effective in fighting neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Children get it right! Researchers say they have about 300 good belly laughs a day. Typical adults have about 10 a week. We were made to move and be joyful! Even forced laughter is effective, doctors say. Start “play-acting” with laughter, and you’ll end up laughing for real.
Laughter reduces pain. We have an opioid epidemic in this nation because people seek pain relief, and they are given highly addictive prescription painkillers. Though pain relief is often necessary, God has His own prescription for pain. Exercise and laughter work in the same way as a prescription or over-the-counter painkiller as they chemically affect the cell receptors in your brain and body. Dopamine reduces pain naturally, and we can increase those dopamine levels through both exercise and laughter. An article in the New England Medical Journal found that 10 minutes of belly laughter relieved pain for up to 2 hours!
Laughter can be the opposite of what you feel like doing, but if you focus on getting yourself to exercise or laugh and stand on the Word of God and His presence, you can take control over what may seem like an out-of-control situation. But laughing once in a while isn’t going to cut it. You’ve got to make laughter a regular part of your life—just like exercise.
Emotional health improves when we laugh. Dr. Avery Jackson explains, “Emotional issues affect how we see the world, which will in turn impact our bodies and emotions.” He says that part of our emotional health comes from how we process past circumstances. Emotional trauma as a child often leads to chronic pain and depression in adulthood because there is a direct correlation between what happened to that child and how he or she perceives the world as an adult.
The only way to make all things new and move into emotional health is through Jesus. Joy is a big part of pushing the reset button on emotional trauma, starting with faith. When you choose to intentionally laugh, that decision positively affects your spirit, soul and body and is a factor of emotional healing. Whenever you start to feel sad, despondent, or depressed, make yourself laugh. Your body doesn’t know whether you are laughing spontaneously or are forcing yourself to laugh. Dr. Jackson shares, “When you obey, making God your joy, and refuse to take on the stress of the world, you are being obedient.”
Your spirit is strengthened by laughter. Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the Lord is our strength—spirit, soul, and body. I have found the best way to overcome discouragement is to find joy in my relationship with Jesus and spend time with my Christian community. I laugh and talk and share joy and go away with strength in my soul. Laughter is an instant vacation for your brain and steel for your spirit.
Set your heart and focus on Psalm 121:1-2: “I lift my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Laughter is how we can see and hear happiness. God wants to work with you; fill you with His joy as you decide to make your joy visible and audible.
As you focus, you might try these things as well: You’ve heard of the power of a gratitude journal, where you write down three (or more) good things that happened that day. A humor journal can help too. A study published in May 2018 in Frontiers in Psychology found that people who reflected and wrote down three amusing things that happened in the day, for one week, decreased depression symptoms and increased overall happiness for up to six months.
“Laughter is a language we all recognize, and we feel connected when we smile and laugh,” says Michigan State University professor Stephen E. DiCarlo, PhD. Laugh with others. Deliberately spend time with people who enjoy humor and will laugh with you.
Don’t be afraid to lighten up. Laugh at yourself. It helps you put mistakes in perspective, deal with hardships, and move past misfortunes.
Living with laughter and joy will be great medicine and bring healing to your life and others.